Massage Therapists Recognize the Dangers of Pressure Sores
Many people who spend their time in a wheelchair will develop pressure sores. These lesions are caused by unrelieved pressure over a period of time sufficient to cause the destruction of soft tissue cells. The pressure between bone and searing surface compresses the soft tissues of the buttocks and forces the blood out of the tissues. The longer one sits without movement to change the pressure areas, the greater the cellular damage. The same process occurs for those of us who can walk when we sit on a hard surface for too long. However, our subconscious nervous system causes us to move periodically, shifting the pressure points and allowing blood to re-enter the compressed tissues. Spinal cord injury causes a loss of the sensation so vital to this process. Most paraplegics and quadriplegics have no feeling in their soft tissues. They feel no distress, fail to move periodically and consequently develop pressure sores. Chair-bound individuals are advised by their physicians and therapists to change their position every 10 minutes or so by doing “pressure lifts” or other pressure point changing routines designed to stimulate the flow of blood to soft tissue. This allows the blood to re-nourish the tissues that have been under high pressure. The sad fact is that people forget to move, or may be unable to move themselves. The use of massage therapy on the coccyx, ischium (pelvic bone) and lower back can help prevent pressure sores on wheelchair users.
Even with the best passive cushion technology available, pressure sores are one of the greatest health risks a chair-bound person can have. They can cause a drastic decline in quality of life. Curing a sore may require weeks or months lying face down on the stomach or even skin grafts. Deep sores may very well develop into life-threatening bone infections, and can change a productive self-sustaining individual into a bed-ridden patient dependent upon others for a long period of time.
The above was taken from an article in the archives of massagetherapy.com from an article titled Resolving Issues for Wheelchair-bound Clients.