Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pressure Ulcers

It Isn't a Rosy Picture

I chose to post these beautiful roses instead of the awful, gruesome, mostly disgusting pictures you can find by Google'ing images for "Pressure Ulcers" or "Bed Sores."  It's disturbing to see this kind of damage to a human body knowing that it in most cases it is avoidable.

We get phone calls every day from "newbies" looking for products to prevent or stop skin breakdown. Hopefully, you are NOT in the "stop-skin-breakdown" category. Prevention is where you want to be. Simply put, "Prevention" in itself can be a full-time job and requires many, many considerations throughout the day.  "Stopping" skin breakdown, or working towards "Healing" can be a frightening experience, even for the experienced physician, nurse, facility, or home caregiver.  Many times healing means a stay in a nursing home or rehab facility where the problem is treated around the clock. A very expensive process that can sometimes take 6 months or longer.

For you Newbies:

Start with a basic understanding of what exactly is going on: Skin Breakdown
A pressure ulcer (also known as a bed sore or pressure sore) is an area of damage to the skin and the underlying tissue, usually over a bony area of the body. Damage to the skin is most commonly caused by pressure, or pressure in combination with shear or friction. Pressure ulcers range in severity from skin discoloration, to severe open wounds where the muscle and bone are visible.

Anyone can get a pressure ulcer but those who are most at risk are:
  • People who have difficulty moving or repositioning themselves
  • Those who cannot feel pain over part or all of their body
  • Those who have limited bladder or bowel control
  • People with poor circulation
  • Those with previous pressure ulcers/skin damage
The damage to the skin and the underlying tissue can be caused by a combination of the following:
  1. Pressure - Pressure causes the skin to compress or squash restricting blood flow. Oxygen and nutrients are carried via the blood to our skin, thus when pressure squashes the tissues which make up our skin, the blood cannot transport the oxygen and nutrients and the tissues become damaged.
  2. Temperature - Increased body temperature is also thought to increase the risk of pressure ulcer development.
  3. Shear - Shear is a force that works in a different direction to pressure. Shear is a parallel (or horizontal) force which causes the skin and underlying tissues to stretch. Shear can occur when someone partially slips down the bed or chair. The skin can stay stuck to the surface distorting the underlying tissues.
  4. Friction - when the skin is rubbed against another surface and can occur when slipping down a chair or bed. This type of damage is usually quite superficial and should heal without problems. However, for some ill or elderly people, healing may be impaired and shallow ulcers may progress to something more serious.

Get a Functional Mattress:

I won't plug our products here except to say there are products out there such as wheelchair cushions and effective mattress systems to help in the prevention category, and higher-end rotational mattress systems for rotating the patient every half-hour or so as needed for getting pressure ulcers under control and healed.
  • An Alternating-Pressure Mattress is a good start for the Prevention Category
  • Low-Air-Loss Mattress Systems are ideal for skin protection and healing existing skin issues, but when combined with Lateral Rotation therapy offer the best of both worlds
(Ok, I will plug our products now.) 
Our website's Group II Support Surface catalog breaks these mattress systems into 3 categories:
  1. Alternating Pressure
  2. Low Air Loss
  3. Lateral Rotation
And our "Support Therapy Primer" can explain exactly how each therapy type works:
Learn how Low Air Loss and Alternating Pressure Work

More on Pressure Sore Prevention:
Want to learn more about the Decubitus Ulcer? 
Read more on Skin Breakdown - Common Risk Areas.

We've been helping customers facing this issue for 15 years. We are here to answer questions about which type of product is the most appropriate for your needs, 1-866-722-4581.