Every day, without thinking, you make hundreds of subtle postural adjustments that help stave off problems arising from inactivity. But for people immobilized by old age, injury, illness or paralysis – pressure ulcers are a constant threat.
Although people living with paralysis are especially at risk, anyone who is bedridden, uses a wheelchair or is unable to change positions without help can develop pressure ulcers.
For people unable to move certain parts of their body without help, one or more of these factors may increase the risk of pressure ulcers:
- being confined to bed or chair and unable to move independently; limited movement only
- a loss of sensation or poor circulation
- skin that is frequently moist due to perspiration or incontinence
- poor nutrition or underweight
- resident of a nursing home or long term care facility
- diminished mental awareness
- suffer from other medical conditions such as diabetes or vascular disease
Age is another critical risk factor. Most pressure ulcers occur in people over 70. Older people tend to be underweight with thinner skin, so making them more susceptible to damage from minor pressure, and prone to the many factors increasing the risk of ulcers.