Why you might need a pressure relief mattress

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Some of us may take our mobility for granted and don’t appreciate it until something unfortunate happens to us. This could be because of an injury, recovery from surgery or a chronic condition that leads you to being unable to get up and about as easily as you used to or get out of bed for long periods.

For those who are kept in bed (either for short-term recovery or because of a long-term condition), the patient is then also at risk of getting bedsores that can affect their health. To resolve this, pressure relief mattresses are recommended.

What is a bedsore?

This is when there is damage to the skin and deeper layer of tissue under the skin caused by pressure being applied to the same area for long periods. This cuts off the blood supply to this area of the skin.

Bedsores are known by different terms. You might have heard medical professionals referring to either pressure sores or pressure ulcers, but they’re referring to the same condition.

Can I get a bedsore?

Your risk of getting a bedsore is not necessarily affected by your age, although skin gets thinner and is more vulnerable as you get older, but your physical condition. This may be because you can’t move or have trouble moving. The risk of you getting a bedsore increases if you:

  • Are immobilised through injury, illness or surgery
  • Have reduced pain perception through injury (e.g. to the spinal cord)
  • Have poor blood circulation
  • Have a poor diet, especially one that lacks protein, vitamin C and zinc
  • Have reduced mental awareness (e.g. through a condition, injury or medication)
  • Are incontinent, meaning that there are areas of skin that are permanently moist
  • Have a low or high body mass index (BMI)

What can a pressure relief mattress do?

Any patient who is going through surgery or is otherwise at risk of getting bedsores should have a pressure-reducing foam mattress. Patients at a greater risk of getting bedsores should have a high technology mattress.

There are a range of pressure mattresses that can be suited to the patient’s needs and requirements, whether they are short- or long-term. There are some suppliers that can provide these for your home, and you can choose to rent or buy the equipment you need – renting a suitable mattress may be best for you if you’re recovering from major surgery at home, for example.

There are many types of pressure relief mattresses you can consider, including foam and air ones, which can be either a full mattress replacement or overlay. A foam mattress is static and will maximise body contact on the item so the patient can get comfortable. An air mattress, which is better suited to high-risk patients, can be adjusted – sometimes in separate sections.

Pressure relief mattresses should be used along with repositioning of the patient and not as the only way to reduce the risk of bedsores. How often repositioning is done will depend on each individual patient.

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