Pressure sores can develop quickly, progress rapidly and are often difficult to heal. Yet health experts say many of these wounds don’t have to occur. Key preventive measures can maintain the skin’s integrity and encourage healing.
Changing position often is the key to pressure care management. But most people at risk are unable to change position on their own, and must rely on a family member or other caregiver to help.
This is why specialized support surfaces are vital – special cushions, pads and mattresses that help protect vulnerable areas or relieve pressure on an existing ulcer. No one support surface is appropriate for all people or all situations. The most effective support depends on many factors, including your level of mobility, your body build and the severity of any existing wounds.
Dynamic mattresses offer patients and carers alike one of the most effective and trusted pressure management solutions available. Products are made up of interconnected air cells that cyclically inflate and deflate to periodically apply and remove pressure from the skin’s surface.
Unlike static solutions, which can only minimise pressure by maximizing skin contact area, alternating pressure release closely mimics the effect of normal, spontaneous movement – making it one of the safest options for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers.
The process involved is called reactive hyperaemia. Hyperaemia is the medical condition in which blood congests in a part of the body. The condition may be subdivided into active hyperaemia, in which blood collects in an organ due to increased blood flow, and passive hyperaemia, in which blood collects in an organ due to an obstruction in the outflowing veins.
Active hyperemia is also used to describe the dilation of arteriolar smooth muscle to increase blood flow in response to an increase in metabolism. Reactive hyperemia is the same but in response to a profound increase in blood flow to an organ after an obstruction. There will be a shortage of oxygen and a build-up of metabolic waste, and reactive hyperaemia (sudden increased blood flow) helps to flush out toxic waster, resupply previously starved tissue and increase oxygenation.
Dynamic pressure relief therefore operates in the same way as the blocked garden hose analogy – pressure is applied to an area of skin for a short period of time, obstructing blood flow to that area, and then rapidly released again to force blood back into the previously deprived area, increasing oxygenation uptake and helping to remove waste build up.