Review of different cushion types to help prevent pressure injuries


Back pain and uncomfortable bottoms are something we all seem to have found out about more during this past year! Many of us have spent hours in front of computers working, or have spent time watching tv series, movies or sport when we were not allowed to get out and about as much.

 

Spare a thought for those with an injury or medical condition that has reduced their mobility and activity levels. Our experience over the last year should help us all to understand that it is vital that we are able to prevent pressure injuries or pressure sores developing in those that are vulnerable.

 

Elderly bedridden in care facility

 

Pressure injuries are generally the result of preventable circumstances and can affect people living at home or in Facility care. The condition usually develops from unrelieved pressure over an extended period on the bony parts of the body such as the bottom, sacrum (tailbone area), upper back (around shoulder blades), hips, heels, elbows and the back of the head.

 

If the pressure is prolonged, it restricts the blood flow, and as a result the tissue and skin that does not receive the blood it needs for nourishment, begins to die. This gradually leads to a wound in that area. Understanding that pressure injuries result from prolonged pressure as well as from friction (dragging) over a surface or rubbing on a surface, can help us to avoid the risks.

 

Pressure points lying on the back Pressure points lying on the side

 

You will hear people talk about pressure ulcers, pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, sores, pressure necrosis and ischemic ulcers – they are all different descriptions for pressure injuries.

 


A bit about Pressure Injuries:

  • They can present as intact skin or an open wound
  • May be painful, but may not be either
  • Occur as a result of intense and/or prolonged pressure or pressure in combination with shear. Often an open wound is the result of a knock injury.
  • One of the first signs of a possible skin injury is a reddened, discoloured or darkened area. It may feel hard and warm to the touch.

 

Skin damage from pressure doesn't start at the skin surface. Pressure usually results from the blood vessels being squeezed between the skin surface and bone, so the muscles and the tissues under the skin near the bone suffer the greatest damage.

 

Every pressure sore seen on the skin, no matter how small, should be regarded as serious because of the probable damage below the skin surface.

 

The risk of pressure injury increases when a person has impaired mobility and or sensation changes. This can occur with spinal cord injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, accident or joint replacement, diabetes, cognitive impairment, and the use of various medications that cause the person to move around less or not be as sensitive to the discomfort that would normally trigger us to move to a different position.

 

preventing pressure injuries

 

Review of different cushion types for pressure prevention:

The good news is there are a lot of pressure prevention cushion options to choose from depending on individual circumstances and needs.

 

We recommend that if you or someone you care about has concerns about developing a pressure injury, or is spending long hours sitting in a chair or wheelchair or in bed, that the level of risk be assessed by a health professional so that the correct solution can be introduced. This is particularly important if there are already signs of skin reddening, heat or firmness.

 

Pressure relief cushions are designed to work in 2 ways – firstly, to reduce the pressure on an area by spreading the weight over a larger area, and secondly, by reducing the risk of friction against the skin. The breathability of the cushion and it’s covering are also important to reduce the build-up of sweat or moisture on the skin as this can make the skin more susceptible to damage.

 

 

Normal cushion VS Equagel Protector Gel Pressure Cushion

Standard foam cushion (left) in comparisson to Equagel Protector Gel Pressure Cushion (right).

 


Best Cushions for Seniors:

If you have a low or medium risk, a high density memory foam or gel cushion are likely to be appropriate – these static cushions spread the weight that is in contact with the surface and are made of materials that flex to accommodate lumps and bumps without focussing pressure on them. These cushions add comfort and support to your seating surface whether that is an office chair, a regular chair, a wheelchair, or a car seat.

 

Where possible regularly moving position and standing up intermittently will also assist circulation and maintenance of comfort.

 

Conventional think foam cushion Diffuser memory foam cushion

 

There is no one best choice to prevent pressure ulcers, the key is to be properly assessed and get the right cushion for your needs.
The type of cushion to choose will also depend on the seats you wish to place it on, particular pain or pressure points and whether you need or want the extra height on the sitting surface (taller seats are easier to get up from), if you need a cut-out for a tender tailbone, and/or one that is washable, waterproof, or lightweight to take from place to place?

Come into a Leef independent living store to try out the options – our team are there to help and will assist you to identify your perfect match!

 

In addition to using a good cushion:


Be aware of the need to change position regularly to relieve the pressure on the weight bearing parts of the body.

To completely relieve the pressure, you need to remain off that area for at least two minutes to enable circulation to be restored fully. If you are unable to change position easily yourself, ensure that those caring for you are aware of the need and are available to give you a hand.

 

If you have a medical condition that increases your risk of skin breakdown or circulation problems (such as diabetes or spinal injury), or your sense of feel (sensation) is reduced, you need to be even more conscious of visual checks as you might not feel pain as a warning until the area is already quite damaged.

Some people take a daily photo on their phone so they can compare photos each day and make it easier to observe any changes which might require treatment. You can complete daily skin care and skinchecks for signs of redness or irritation using a long-handled mirror to view any hard to see areas.

 

Maintaining your best health, eating well, and having adequate hydration can also assist prevention of pressure wounds.


 

Cushion options for patients who have high or very high risk (or already have a pressure injury) include those with separate air-filled cells that are adjustable to the persons weight and size.

 

Roho Quadtro Select High Profile Pressure Reducing Cushion

Roho Quatro high profile pressure reducing cushion.

 

There are many to choose from and it is best to discuss your needs with our friendly team and/or a health care professional to make sure that you are able seat yourself in the best possible way.

 

Once you have identified your risk, and given some thought about the features you need in a cushion, browse our range, I’m sure you’ll find something to provide the relief you need.

 

Do you have a favourite pressure relief cushion? – we’d love to hear your suggestions.

 

Cathie's illustration

- Cathie

 

 

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