Anyone who spends long periods lying or sitting in the same position is at risk of bedsores, also known as pressure or decubitus ulcers. Skin cannot cope with prolonged pressure and friction. They interrupt the flow of blood to delicate tissues, which soon begin to suffer damage. In some patients, pressure ulcers can form in hours and quickly develop into an excruciatingly painful and dangerous wound.
However, with a correctly managed environment and the right equipment, you can reduce the risk of pressure sores and accelerate the healing of existing sores.
This article reveals how you can reduce bedsore risk in vulnerable individuals and help them heal faster. If you would like to learn more about bedsores, take a look at What Are Bedsores?, which covers everything you need to know about how and why bedsores develop.
Key Factors to Prevent Bedsores
Bedsores are caused by excessive pressure and shear (rubbing or friction). We all encounter these forces, but some people cannot manage their effects without help, so it’s vital to identify and reduce the risk factors.
The primary risk factor is lack of movement. When healthy and mobile people sit or lie down, they frequently move, unconsciously shifting the balance of forces and selectively reducing the pressure exerted on their bodies.
For some patients, these natural adjustments are not possible. They may not have the strength to move, they may not be conscious, or they may suffer from a condition that limits their range of motion.
If a person cannot move often enough, it’s essential to create an environment that intelligently distributes pressure. Consumer-grade beds and mattresses don’t work well in this scenario. A low-quality mattress might focus pressure on elbows or the base of the spine, whereas a high-quality foam mattress spreads the pressure more evenly.
Shear forces occur when fabric and other materials “pull” on the skin. Imagine sitting on a leather sofa while wearing shorts. The leather sticks to your skin so you can’t slide around in the seat. It creates friction so that when you try to move in one direction, the leather seems to push in the other direction.
Bedclothes, sheets, and mattresses can cause the same type of shear, reducing circulation to the affected area and promoting bedsore formation.
Maintain a Clean and Dry Environment
Moist skin can exacerbate shear forces. It also creates an environment in which bacteria thrive, increasing the likelihood that pressure sores become infected.
Practical Bedsore Management Strategies
Preventing bedsores in immobile or bedbound patients can be labor and time-intensive, but you don’t have to go it alone if you take advantage of beds, mattresses, and accessories that promote a healthy environment.
Home Hospital Beds
Adjustable home hospital beds make it easier to move into different positions. A head adjustment can help you sit up, lie down, and find just the right angle to reduce pressure on your spine, buttocks, and thighs.
Leg adjustments can relieve pressure on your back, thighs, knees, ankles, and feet. The correct body position reduces shear forces by ensuring that you are adequately supported so that you don’t slump or slide down the bed.
With the electric adjustments and remote control of a bed such as the Supernal 5, you can change your position at the push of a button, rather than relying on a caregiver.
Progressive Foam and Memory Foam Mattresses
NASA originally developed high-density viscoelastic foam (memory foam) for aviation safety applications. But medical professionals quickly realized that it was far more effective at preventing bedsores than traditional spring mattresses.
Today, foam is the preferred mattress material for bedsore reduction, which is why Transfer Master’s Supernal® Sleep System mattresses are made of foam.
- The Ascent Hospital Bed Mattress uses progressive laminated foams to intelligently redistribute pressure.
- The Soft Touch Memory Foam Mattress conforms to the shape of your body to provide optimal support.
A pressure-relief mattress is ideal for patients who are particularly prone to bedsores or who have them already. Pressure-relief mattresses are sophisticated air mattresses with independently controlled air cells. Pressure can be selectively adjusted to reduce the forces acting on specific parts of the body, and even to automatically roll the patient, ensuring that no area experiences prolonged pressure.
Ill-fitting sheets increase the risk of bedsores. If sheets don’t fit properly, they can bunch up beneath you and create areas of increased pressure and friction. They may also slip and prevent you from maintaining a safe position in bed while adding to the shear forces your skin experiences. To learn more about finding the right sheets for your bed, take a look at our Hospital Bed Sheets Guide
People who spend long periods in bed must manage the risk of bedsores, especially if strength or mobility limitations restrict their ability to move. To learn more about how our adjustable beds and mattresses can help you to reduce bedsore risk, contact us today to talk to a home hospital bed expert.