Your Guide to Pressure Sores
Pressure sores are a very serious problem with alarming statistics. To help you navigate the world of pressure sores we have put together the following information as a guide. Keep in mind that this is only to be used as a guide and to seek medical help and advice if needed.
Does the Amount of Pressure Over Time Matter?
In short, no. Dr. Koziak, who is considered to be the father of modern pressure sore research, found that very high pressure over a short period of time was just as dangerous for developing ulcers as lower pressure over a longer period of time.
Pressure Sores – The What & The Why
What is a Pressure Sore?
Pressure sores are red areas of sores on the skin. They are also called bed sores, pressure injuries, and decubitus ulcers. They can occur over any bony part of the body, but for people that use a wheelchair, the ischial tuberosities and sacrum are the major risk areas. There are four degrees, or stages, of severity of pressure sores with the most severe causing tissue necrosis, or damage to muscle, bone or supporting structure.
If a pressure sore continues unabated, the area will become blistered and then ulcerous with a shallow opening in the skin, possibly accompanied by fluids draining from the site. After that, the wound can become deeper, with destruction not only to the outer skin layer, but also to the fat and muscle beneath with increasing likelihood of pain and drainage.
In severe cases, if untreated, the wound can extend all the way down to the bone. At this point, there’ll most likely be an excess of pus and dead tissue appearing in the site, with accompanying pain. Fever and increased warmth around the wound are possible signs of infection, as is the presence of a green or yellow discharge. Once the site is infected, the surrounding tissues and the bone are also in danger of infection. Sepsis – the general spread of bacteria throughout the body – is a further possibility, paving the way for potentially fatal complications.
What Causes Pressure Sores?
Pressure sores occur when you are lying or sitting in one place for too long. The skin needs blood and oxygen to get nutrients – pressure on the skin blocks the blood supply. If the blood supply is blocked for a long time, a red area may be seen over a bony part of the body. If the pressure is not removed and blood supply restored, the red area will turn into a pressure ulcer or sore in as little as two hours.
Pressure sores can be prevented by physically moving or lifting one’s self while in a stationary position, like sitting in a wheelchair. The recommended lifting protocol is every 20 minutes. If the person is unable to lift themselves up, they could be at risk for developing pressure sores.
According to physicians, preventing pressure sores is best accomplished by pressure redistribution from the bony area where tissue is compressed. Circulation is re-established and pressure sores don’t have the opportunity to form. Many people simply don’t have the physical ability to lift themselves up to provide this essential pressure relief. For others, it may be difficult to remember to perform pressure relief.
What Makes Aquila Cushions Better Than the Competition?
The APK2, SofTech, and SofTech Basic cushion systems will automatically change your pressure distribution so you don’t have to worry about performing pressure lifts if you are not able to do them. One unique feature of all of our cushion systems is the cycle time control. You have complete control over the frequency of pressure distribution changes but never longer than 9 minutes.
Pressure Sores – Prevention & Healing
How to Prevent Pressure Sores
The following guidelines are in accordance to a Mayo Clinic Community Internal Medicine Division Report.
For individuals that use a wheelchair, doctors have recommended the following steps:
- Inspect skin at least once a day
- Shift weight every 15 minutes
- Use a pressure-reducing device for seating surfaces
- Do not use donut shaped devices
- Consider postural alignment, distribution of weight, balance and stability, and pressure relief when positioning in a wheelchair
The APK2, SofTech, and SofTech Basic cushions are class 1 medical devices that effectively adhere to these guidelines.
Healing Pressure Sores with the Help of an Automatic Cushion
To heal and prevent pressure sores the pressure needs to be relieved from the affected area. Regular static (non-powered) wheelchair cushions cannot change pressure distribution by themselves – it’s impossible. Instead they require the user to manually lift themselves up off the cushion to relieve and redistribute pressure. But what if the user doesn’t have the physical ability to lift themselves up to provide this essential pressure relief? That is where the Aquila cushion systems come in.
The APK2, SofTech, and SofTech Basic cushion systems will automatically change your pressure distribution up to 30 times per hour to create the ideal environment for pressure sore prevention and healing. With a cushion system from Aquila you don’t have to worry about performing pressure lifts if you are not able to do them. One unique feature of all of our cushion systems is the cycle time control. You have complete control over the frequency of pressure distribution changes but never longer than 9 minutes. Visit our products page to learn more about how the custom cushion systems at Aquila can help you or a loved one get relief from pressure sores.