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How To Prevent Pressure Ulcers In Wheelchairs

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Treatment Of Pressure Ulcers On The Buttocks

How to Prevent Pressure Injuries When You Use a Wheelchair

Pressure ulcers are a complex health problem whether they are on the buttocks or another area of the body. They can arise as a result many interrelated factors and they can be painful, debilitating and life threatening. Care and treatment of pressure ulcers may be provided by a multidisciplinary team made up of different disciplines of healthcare professionals.

This MDT may include:

  • a dietician
  • experienced medical and surgical experts

The specific treatment of a pressure ulcer can depend on the stage a pressure ulcer has reached.

Living With Pressure Sores

Living with pressure sores requires a plan to move and turn frequently. Good hygiene will always be required. Pressure sores should be kept covered with a bandage or dressing. Sometimes gauze is used. The gauze must be changed once a day. Newer materials include a see-through film and a hydrocolloid dressing. A hydrocolloid dressing is a bandage made of a gel. It molds to the pressure sore and promotes healing and skin growth. These dressings can stay on for several days at a time.

Dead tissue in the sore can interfere with healing and lead to infection. Dead tissue looks like a scab. To remove dead tissue, rinse the sore every time you change the bandage. Special dressings can help your body dissolve the dead tissue on its own. The dressing must be left in place for several days. Another way to remove dead tissue is to put wet gauze bandages on the sore. Allow them to dry. The dead tissue sticks to the gauze until it is removed. For severe pressure sores, dead tissue must be removed surgically by your doctor.

Removing dead tissue and cleaning the sore can hurt. Your doctor can suggest a pain medicine. Take it 30 to 60 minutes before changing the dressing.

Healthy eating helps sores heal. Make sure youre eating the proper number of calories and protein every day. Nutrients are important too, including vitamin C and zinc. Ask your doctor for advice on a healthy diet. Be sure to tell them if youve lost or gained weight recently.

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Sufficient intake of nutrients and water will help to prevent the onset development of pressure ulcer. Having a well-balanced diet can help reduce the risk of pressure ulcers. If your loved one is recovering from a pressure ulcer eating high calorie food like fish meat and egg can help with the healing of the wound.

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Pros And Cons Of Gel Cushions For Wheelchair

Gel wheelchair cushions are usually designed to have vicious gel pouches that are attached to a high-density foam base thus, they are meant to provide exceptional pressure distribution allowing the cushion surface to conform to its user.

Their gel bladders make for body temperature regulation and enhance blood circulation.

If you are in need of wheelchair cushions with the following needs, then the gel wheelchair is for you.

  • Regulation of body temperature and prevention of sweaty skin
  • Enhanced posture and sitting stability
  • Provision of exceptional pressure relief
  • Requires low maintenance

However, gel wheelchair cushions are not ideal for those searching for cushions with the following characteristics.

  • Lightweight
  • Not susceptible to ruptures

How To Install The Anti

A final reminder these small methods cannot 100% guarantee the removal of static electricity every time. The human body is always discharging electricity when touching objects, but it depends on the amount of electricity as to whether the human body can feel the electric shock.

We hope that these methods can help reduce the chance of feeling electric shocks and use wheelchairs more comfortably and confidently.

To better understand the principle of static electricity, you can refer to this video:

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The Available Reconstructive Options Are

Split thickness skin grafting

When the ulcer is superficial and vital tissues such as bone, vessels, nerves or tendons are not exposed, and the ulcer is not copiously discharging, skin grafting is the first option for surgical treatment. The slimy layer over the surface of ulcer is sharply debrided to get a healthy vascular bed for skin grafting.

Local flaps

Variety of local flaps can be used to reconstruct the defect created by excision of pressure ulcers. Local transposition, rotation, limberg flap are the available options .3]. Biceps femoris V-Y advancement for ischial pressure sore and perforator based V-Y advancement is another good options if the anatomy permits .

Sacral pressure sore , debridement and cover by local perforator based V-Y advancement flaps , 1-month post-operative , recurrence on the flap after 11 years due to loss of family support and subsequent improper care. Another patient with the same flap after 16-year of follow-up with a proper weight shifting and care showing stable coverage

Regional flaps

Medial planter flap for heel sore: A long-standing deep trophic ulcer of heel . The islanded medial planter flap was transposed to the defect and the resultant donor site was covered by split thickness skin graft . The 1-week and 3-month post-operative pictures showing stable coverage. Patient allowed full weight bearing from 6th week along with silicone footpad protection

Microvascular free flaps

The Downside Of Wheelchair Lateral Supports

If you consider lateral body supports, then its worth knowing that like with anything there are cons of them too.

  • The hardware swing away release may get stubborn when the pad is under pressure.
  • There is no adjustment for angling the padding in or out hence it is not possible to realize even contact of the body against the entire pad.
  • Mounting the backrest in proper position may not be easy.
  • If the user decides to change its position the wheelchair trunk lateral may no longer be correctly aligned.
  • If the lateral supports are placed too low, then there may be no support, and it becomes ineffective.
  • If lateral supports are set too high, they may affect the armpit and lead to other problems such as bronchial plexus injury and restricting movement of the arm and shoulder.
  • The laterals add a complex look to the overall appearance of the wheelchair.

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Wheelchairs: Mechanisms And Pressure Injury Risk

For persons who are wheelchair dependent, the studies have also varied with regard to the results of different surfaces and pressure injuries. Many of the studies were conducted years ago, starting in the 1930s and 1970s to the 1990s. Wheelchair surface types and technology have changed, and the earlier reports may not be entirely applicable to the wheelchair products currently available. Neurotrophic changes, such as those that occur in SCI, result in diminished or absent sensation thus, the patient is unaware of the pressure overload. Although these neurogenic factors may not be primary in the development of ulcers, the patient is nonetheless prevented from having a normal protective response to the resulting discomfort.2

Ragan et al. also reported higher pressure loads of smaller areas for patients in wheelchairs and recommended use of a polyurethane cushion up to 8cm to help redistribute this pressure.4 Karatas et al. studied 16 patients with SCI and 18 healthy volunteers.5 These investigators also reported that the center of pressure displacement was smaller than in healthy volunteers in all directions , whereas 46.3% had multiple surgical procedures for their repair, with 17.5% of pressure injuries that had not healed, mostly on the ischial tuberosities.6

Express Comfort Contoured Gel Foam Wheelchair Cushion

Surgery 081 Pressure sore ulcer bed trophic decubitus prevent treat classify wheelchair

The Express Comfort Contoured Gel Foam Wheelchair Cushion by the Comfort Company offers a cooling sensation, which not only improves someoneâs comfort but it allows the skin to breathe better while seated. The gel is one of the most sought-after materials for pressure relief cushions, since people find them to be optimally durable and accommodating.

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Preventing Pressure Sores In Wheelchair Users: Risk Factors

There are certain risk factors that can predispose pressure sores, so its a good idea to be aware of these as well as being on the lookout for pressure sores themselves. If your loved one:

  • Spends a good deal of time in a wheelchair, bed, or is otherwise immobile for long periods
  • Is extremely overweight or obese, or underweight
  • Is incontinent
  • Have decreased feeling in a certain area

Any of these factors can contribute to pressure sores in the elderly, both in wheelchairs and out. However, wheelchair cushions for pressure relief and other measures can help.

Check The Skin For Signs Of Developing Pressure Sores Often

The skin should be checked frequently for the signs of developing pressure sores. A pressure sore may develop in less than a few hours.

For example, have you ever experienced increased soreness and redness on your buttocks while driving for more than an hour or two? If so, you developed a Stage I pressure sore, but your ability to move allowed you to recognize the pain and adjust your position to prevent it from progressing.

For some seniors, you must be the one to check and recognize the signs of a pressure sores development when performing perineal care, providing showers or performing other assessments of skin integrity. All such checks should be documented as well.

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A Wheelchair Cushion That Prevents Ulcers

A UNT Health Science Center researcher has developed a prototype of a cooling cushion that could help prevent pressure ulcers for people in wheelchairs.

The cooling system is designed to prevent skin temperature in the buttocks or lower back from heating to levels that accelerate tissue breakdown that occurs in ulcers, said Metin Yavuz, D.Eng, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy.

Pressure ulcers are major health problem that impacts an estimated 3 million U.S. adults, according to the National Institutes of Health. Each ulcer typically costs between $37,000 and $70,000 to treat and often leads to pain, diminished function, infection and death.

People who are bedridden or in wheelchairs are particularly at risk because of the constant pressure against their skin and low-blood circulation at those pressure points.

Pressure ulcers are dangerous to the patient and expensive to the health care system, Dr. Yavuz said. We need to find a way to offer these people more protection.

A $5,000 NIH grant funded development of the wheelchair cooling system, which Dr. Yavuz designed with the help of Ali Ersen, Postdoctoral Research Associate, and Linda Adams, Research Associate.

Dr. Yavuz and his colleagues developed a battery-powered cooling system that circulates about a gallon of water through a wheelchair seat cushion. Studies suggest that a skin temperature range of 25 to 28 degrees Celsius can help prevent the breakdown of tissue that occurs in ulcers.

Position Changes To Prevent Pressure Sores

How to Prevent Pressure Sores for Elderly Wheelchair Users ...

If you use a wheelchair shift position within your chair about every 15 minutes. If you spend most of their time in bed change position at least once every two hours, even during the night and avoid lying directly on your hipbones.

Pillows may be used as soft buffers between your skin and the bed or chair. The head-of-bed elevation should be maintained at/or below 30 degrees. Or depending on the your medical condition, the bed should at least be elevated to the lowest degree to prevent injury. When lying on your side, a 30 degrees position should be used.

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Get A Proper Seating Evaluation At Least Every Two Years Or Sooner If Your Health Or Skin Condition Changes

  • Make sure you have the proper cushion for your wheelchair and your seating tolerance.
  • Make sure you have the appropriate wheelchair, one that has been measured specifically for you and is compatible with your level of mobility, activities, work and associated equipment.
  • The therapist doing the seating evaluation should place a pressure map above your cushion and under your buttocks to see where your pressure-sensitive areas are. If at-risk areas on the pressure map are found, then the therapist may try a different cushion alter the wheelchair seat, back or foot rest or show you how to relieve pressure on the vulnerable areas by repositioning your body.
  • Pressure mapping is an excellent way to visually demonstrate the effectiveness of weight shifts.
  • If pressure mapping is unavailable, work with a seating professional and try several different cushions to see what works best for you.

Stages Of Pressure Ulcer Formation

If the blood supply to the skin is disrupted for more than two to three hours, bedsores will develop. At first, these ulcers are characterized by red and painful areas that gradually turn purple. If left untreated, the skin will break open, and these areas will become infected.

Unfortunately, pressure ulcers may deepen and progress to the muscles and bones. On the other hand, the healing process of these sores is very slow. In some cases, surgery is needed to speed up the recovery process.

The following areas are most at risk:

  • Buttocks area
In this stage, the ulcer is gone through deeper into the fat tissue.
  • The doctor removes the dead tissue
  • Antibiotics are essential to prevent infection.
  • You may need a special bed at this stage.
Up to 4 months
4 A large wound is seen. At this stage, the muscles, bones, tendons, and joints may be involved. Infection is also a serious threat.
  • Surgery may be needed at this stage.
3 months to even years

If the bottom of the ulcer is not visible and there is full-thickness tissue loss, the wound is not assigned a stage.

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Equagel Straight Comfort Gel Wheelchair Cushion

Despite being a relatively smooth cushion, the EquaGel Straight Comfort Gel Wheelchair Cushion by is made of high-tech gel that gives it some memory foam qualities. This makes it more innovative than many others crafted with one quality, since it develops contours that align to the grooves and landmarks specific to your body. This gel in this cushion has deep, hidden divots that are always working to shift weight appropriately and maintain the health of your skin.

Wheelchair Users Often Suffer From The Problem Of Pressure Sores They Are Caused When The Blood Supply Is Cut Off From A Particular Area Of The Skin If The Skin Is Under Pressure Because Of Continuous Sitting On The Wheelchair In One Specific Position It Results In Such Sores It Might Result In Severe Consequences With Respect To Hygiene And Health How Can A Shower And Commode Wheelchair Ease This Problem For The Mobility Impaired Read On To Know

Preventing Pressure Ulcers

Wheelchair users often go through a difficult time with respect to doing their daily activities independently. Apart from that, what worries them more is the development of pressure sores, also known as bedsores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers on their skin. Wheelchair users usually spend all their time awake, either on the bed or on their wheelchair. If the wheelchair seat isnt comfortable or if their weight isnt properly distributed on the wheelchair, the muscles and soft tissues might press against the uncomfortable surfaces. This would result in a cutoff of the blood supply to that specific region. When there is no blood supply, the skin tissue dies off and a pressure ulcer is formed. These sores are one of the most common ailments resulting from mobility issues.

The sores are an unavoidable problem in wheelchair users, but uncomfortable and unhygienic wheelchairs make it additionally severe. The material used in the seat of the wheelchair, the quality of steel, the size and many such factors are responsible for making pressure ulcers or sores quite rampant in the wheelchair users. It is extremely important for users to select a comfortable wheelchair that solves the most important issue of cleanliness and is built with high-quality materials only. Such a wheelchair can greatly reduce the risk of such sores if not completely eliminate it.

A few things that can be done to avoid/ reduce the risk of pressure ulcers are as follows:

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How Often Is Repositioning Necessary

Even though it’s often recommended that people be repositioned every two hours, there’s no single recommendation that works for everyone. Some people can lie in the same position for quite a long time without getting ulcers, while others need to switch much more often. Research has not yet found out how often someone should change position to get the best preventive effect.

Unnecessarily moving someone too much for no good reason can also have disadvantages. For instance, repositioning every two hours at night may wake the person each time and keep them from getting a good nights sleep. Changing position can also be very painful for people who have wounds or joint conditions. Frequent repositioning is physically demanding for caregivers or family members too. It’s therefore important to observe how often someones position really needs to be shifted. It can then help to make a note every time they are repositioned.

What Are The Risk Of Developing Pressure Ulcers

Having pressure ulcers affect an individuals mobility, morbidity and overall quality of life. Patients who are bed-bound or wheelchair bound are at risk of developing pressure ulcers. The constant pressure on the same position for a prolonged period of time can affect the blood circulation to the area. This will cause pressure ulcer to form as the skin will start to break down due to the lack of blood supply.

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How To Combat Pressure Ulcers

Once you understand what causes a pressure sore, the next logical step is finding a way to make sure you avoid them. Sounds easy, doesnt it? Not so fast!! Once a sore or ulcer becomes advanced it can be significantly more difficult to treat so early intervention is crucial to avoid potential infection. Yes, many of these products are common sense and are readily available, but there are some you may not know about that are much more efficient in preventing pressure sores. They can include:

  • Wheelchair Seat Cushions: This is the first and best place to start. When you are in a wheelchair your backside takes the brunt of your body weight. If you only use your wheelchair for short periods of time you may be able to get away with a foam pad, but those who spend a longer period of time in their chairs may benefit from a seat cushion that employs air bladders to disperse weight and minimize pressure points. These air cushions come in many different forms and sizes to benefit just about every user with limited mobility.

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