Bedsores — also called pressure sores or pressure ulcers — are injuries to skin and underlying tissue resulting from prolonged pressure on the skin. Bedsores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as the heels, ankles, hips and tailbone.
People most at risk of bedsores are those with a medical condition that limits their ability to change positions, requires them to use a wheelchair or confines them to a bed for a long time.
Bedsores can develop quickly and are often difficult to treat. Several things can help prevent some bedsores and help with healing. Per the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bedsores/basics/definition/con-20030848
Be sure to advise your doctor or visiting nurse at the first signs of a bedsore.
Bedsores are easier to prevent than to treat, but that doesn’t mean the process is easy or uncomplicated. And wounds may still develop with consistent, appropriate preventive care.
Your doctor and other members of the care team can help develop a good strategy, whether it’s personal care with at-home assistance, professional care in a hospital or some other situation.
Position changes are key to preventing pressure sores. These changes need to be frequent, repositioning needs to avoid stress on the skin, and body positions need to minimize pressure on vulnerable areas. Other strategies include taking good care of your skin, maintaining good nutrition, quitting smoking and exercising daily.
Repositioning in a wheelchair
Consider the following recommendations related to repositioning in a wheelchair:
- Shift your weight frequently.If you use a wheelchair, try shifting your weight about every 15 minutes. Ask for help with repositioning about once an hour.
- Lift yourself, if possible.If you have enough upper body strength, do wheelchair pushups — raising your body off the seat by pushing on the arms of the chair.
- Look into a specialty wheelchair.Some wheelchairs allow you to tilt them, which can relieve pressure.
- Select a cushion that relieves pressure.Use cushions to relieve pressure and help ensure your body is well-positioned in the chair. Various cushions are available, such as foam, gel, water filled and air filled. A physical therapist can advise you on how to place them and their role in regular repositioning.
Repositioning in a bed
Consider the following recommendations when repositioning in a bed:
- Reposition yourself frequently.Change your body position every two hours.
- Look into devices to help you reposition.If you have enough upper body strength, try repositioning yourself using a device such as a trapeze bar. Caregivers can use bed linens to help lift and reposition you. This can reduce friction and shearing.
- Try a specialized mattress.Use special cushions, a foam mattress pad, an air-filled mattress or a water-filled mattress to help with positioning, relieving pressure and protecting vulnerable areas. Your doctor or other care team members can recommend an appropriate mattress or surface.
- Adjust the elevation of your bed.If your hospital bed can be elevated at the head, raise it no more than 30 degrees. This helps prevent shearing.
- Use cushions to protect bony areas.Protect bony areas with proper positioning and cushioning. Rather than lying directly on a hip, lie at an angle with cushions supporting the back or front. You can also use cushions to relieve pressure against and between the knees and ankles. You can cushion or ”float” your heels with cushions below the calves.
Visiting Nurse Service of New York offers wound care services in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester.
Please call 800-675-0391
The Advanced Wound Healing Center
Mount Sinai Beth Israel
10 Nathan D. Perlman Place, 7th floor
New York, NY 10003
Helen L. & Martin S. Kimmel Hyperbaric & Advanced Wound Healing Center
(part of NYU)
240 East 38th Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Metro New York area
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