For individuals who struggle with mobility and may be bedridden or wheelchair bound, pressure sores are a common problem. Though commonly known as bedsores, these sores can occur in wheelchairs as well, and are technically known as decubitus. Bedsores can lead to severe infections and the death of skin cells. Preventing bedsores leads to better overall health. But how can you stop them from occurring? Here are some tips and products that might help.
Change Position Frequently
Regardless of whether you’re bound to a bed or a wheelchair, it’s important to change position at least once every hour. Depending on your exact medical condition, you may need to request help to do this. Certain products can assist with regular position changes, such as wedges that can help prop you up in a semi-reclined position or help you rotate onto your side and stay there while in bed. Hospital-style adjustable beds are also an excellent investment for those who are confined to their beds for extended periods of time. Wheelchairs with adjustable backs and armrests are extremely beneficial for changing your position periodically if you’re in a wheelchair.
Sores develop when excessive pressure is applied to one area of the body for an extended period of time. So, shifting position frequently ensures that no part of your skin receives too much pressure throughout the day.
Use Pressure Pads with Pumps
When you’re confined to a bed and lying on your back, your weight is not distributed as evenly as you might think. Areas like your spine, hips, and tailbone receive more pressure, so they’re the most likely to develop sores. Using pressure pads with air pumps in these areas can help relieve pressure to these commonly afflicted areas. These pads have an automatic air pump that inflates and deflates the cells in the pad at regular intervals and in a regular cycle to regular adjust where the most pressure is on your body. By more evenly distributing your weight on these air-filled cells and cycling pressure, these pads make it much less likely that you’ll develop pressure ulcers while in bed.
Press Yourself Out of Your Wheelchair Regularly
If you’re confined to a wheelchair but have sufficient upper body strength, simply pressing yourself up out of your wheelchair on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do to avoid developing pressure sores from your chair. To do this, simply press your hands onto the arms of your chair and use them to raise your bottom from the seat for 30 seconds. Do this every 15 to 30 minutes. If you can’t do this on your own, ask someone else to help.
Use a Proper Seat Cushion
Many wheelchair users think that using a donut cushion is the best way to prevent development of pressure sores on the tailbone. However, these cushions put too much pressure on the tissue surrounding your tailbone and can still lead to decubitus. Instead, make sure that your wheelchair’s seat pad has enough padding to keep you comfortable and support proper weight distribution. If the pad becomes too thin, have it replaced.
Get a Properly Sized Wheelchair
Many wheelchair users develop sores on their hips and sides of their legs because their wheelchairs simply aren’t wide enough for them. If you can feel pressure on your sides or the outside of your legs from your wheelchair, you need to look for one that has a wider seat. Improperly sized wheelchairs are a common cause of pressure sores, but these cases could easily be prevented by simply selecting a properly sized chair for your body.
Take Care of Your Skin
Finally, make sure you’re taking care of your skin. Proper hygiene when you have mobility limitations can be difficult, but effectively washing and drying your skin makes it less likely that sores will develop—and makes it easier to notice the sores in their earlier stages instead of after they’ve progressed to tissue death. If you’re not able to tend to your hygiene needs alone, employ a caregiver or consider placement in an assisted living facility where you can receive the assistance you need with this part of your daily routine.
If you need any of the products mentioned above, or if you’re looking for wound care supplies to help with treatment of existing bedsores, Elixair Medical can help. View our full list of decubitus prevention products, or contact one of our staff members today to learn more about how we can help you with your home health and mobility needs.