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Volkner Bariatric and Disability Medical Mattresses
Why are the Alternating Pressure Mattresses Used?
The short answer is to prevent or help heal decubitus ulcers, commonly called 'bedsores' or 'pressure sores' and to provide burn patients, patients with Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, fibromyalgia, etc. with some comfort. Patients at risk for bedsores are those that are bedridden, have moist skin from fever, and those that suffer from incontinence, perspiration, anemias, renal failure, osteoarthritis, dehydration, and a decreased nutritional intake.
If the patient is bedridden, sensitive body parts can be protected by:
Special cushions placed on top of a mattress.
A water-filled mattress.
A variable-pressure mattress whose sections can be individually inflated or deflated to redistribute pressure.
A hospital bed can make a big difference in comfort for ALS patients. These beds have adjustments for raising and lowering both the head and the foot sections. Sleeping with the head raised 10-40 degrees allows for easier breathing. Sleeping with the legs raised slightly will help reduce the common problem of swollen feet.
manual, semi-automatic, and fully automatic. A semi-automatic model with electrical controls to raise and lower the head and the foot sections is the most appropriate type for an ALS patient. A fully automatic bed which will also raise and lower the entire bed to facilitate transfers and aid caregivers is nice but not necessary. Hospital beds should be ordered with half linked side rails that can be raised or lowered as desired. These give the patient something to grab when transferring and turning or repositioning. Insurance companies will usually cover the cost of a semi-automatic hospital bed. In most cases, the beds are provided on a rental basis.
Mattress overlays are commonly used to help burn victims but they work well also for people like us who have difficult turning at night. And probably the best thing about them is that they don't cost and arm and a leg.
Damage to the skin and soft tissues following prolonged decubitus of the patient in a conventional bed is known to be caused by excessive pressure of the skeleton on the soft parts, with values 4-5 times as high as that of the pressure within the capillaries, which is about 26 mm Hg. If these local conditions persist, the collapse of the capillaries and the veins leads to functional circulatory disturbances, at first transitory but later permanent, followed by organic damage with cutaneous necrosis spreading to the subcutaneous tissue, the fascia, the muscles and the bones. Further damage is caused by friction between skin and bedsheet due to gravitational slipping and by imperfect cutaneous evaporation at the pressure points.
Pressure Mattress - How to Prevent and Treat Pressure Sores
Pressure sores, also known as bedsores and pressure ulcers, are diagnosed by visual examination. A good diagnosis will accurately measure the patient's risk of developing them. In order to do this, the doctor will consider the patient's:
- Health condition
- Level of mobility
- Blood circulation
- Signs and symptoms of an infection
- Mental health
- Mental state
- Personal history of bedsores
The patient must go through daily checkups to find out of there are signs of pressure sores. Be it at the hospital, hospice, or at home, the caregiver, or the patient himself, has to look for discoloration of the skin, and must touch the skin to identify any abnormal texture.
The treatment options
There is no easy treatment for pressure sores. An open wound will not heal fast, and even if it heals, the area may remain irregular because some skin and other tissues have suffered irreparable damage.
In order to effectively care for pressure sores, the patient's family or caregiver must pay attention to several aspects, and should look for the advice of these specialists:
- A dietician
- A gastroenterologist
- A neurosurgeon
- An orthopedic surgeon
- A physical therapist
- A plastic surgeon
- A social worker
- A urologist
- An incontinence advisor
The first step in treating any bedsore, no matter how severe, is to get rid of the pressure that is causing it. This can be done in two ways:
By changing positions
The patient must be turned and repositioned constantly. By putting sheepskin or other type of padding on the wound, the caregiver may help reduce the friction when moving the person. In any case, this task eventually becomes devastating for both the patient and the caregiver, since it has to be done during the night as well as during the day.
With supporting surfaces
Special beds, pads, cushions, and mattresses, help diminish the pressure on sores and protect skin areas that are at risk. The support used will depend on the level of mobility of the patient, his or her size, and the gravity of the sore. Experts recommend a pressure mattress, which turns the patient automatically after a certain period of time has passed.
Other treatments include:
- Cleaning the wound
The wound has to be clean all the time. It may be cleaned with mild soap and water or a saline solution, depending on its gravity.
- Controlling continence
The patient must be kept dry and clean as much as possible, ideally, always.
- Removing dead or infected tissue (Debridement)
The wound will never heal if dead or infected tissue is not eliminated. There are different debridement options:
- Maggot therapy
Maggots feed on infected and dead tissue, and never touch the healthy one; they release a bacteria-killing substance, and promote healing.
- Using dressings
These protect the wound and encourage healing. Its type will depend on the gravity of the wound, but in general, the wound has to be kept moist while the tissue around it has to remain dry.
This is used to clean the skin, and to naturally remove dead and contaminated skin.
- Oral antibiotics
These are used in case of infection.
- Good nutrition
Wounds heal better if the patient consumes enough proteins, vitamins, and minerals, especially vitamin C and zinc, as well as enough calories.
- Relief from muscle spasms
Spasms may be reduced through muscle relaxants.
In very serious cases of bedsores, surgery may be necessary, regardless of the treatment being given. The surgery intends to improve the sore's appearance, clean it up, treat or prevent infection, reduce fluid loss, and lower the risk of cancer.
The prevention options
It is much easier to prevent pressure sores than to treat them, however, their prevention doesn't come without a struggle. There are many aspects to consider and many routines to put into practice, which include position changes, supportive devices, routine skin inspections, and a balanced diet.
- Position changes
Regular position changing is crucial for bedsore prevention. Pressure sores develop very quickly; thus, the patient has to be moved very frequently to maintain the skin's integrity. This is no easy task; it requires constant attention from the caregiver, during day and night, compromising both the patient and caregiver's sleep and rest quality. A pressure mattress effectively solves this issue, because it turns the patient automatically every 4, 5, or 6 minutes.
- Best bed positions
A professional physical therapist should inform the patient about the best bed positions. Some are:
- Lying on his or her side at a 30-degree angle, not directly on the hipbone. Legs should be well supported.
- Using pillows or pads to keep knees and ankles apart from each other.
- Keeping the head of the bed under 30 degrees, for less friction.
- Using a pressure mattress or bed is ideal. It could be a foam, air, gel, or water mattress.
If there's a pressure release, the patient can sit for longer periods of time, otherwise, they have to move every 15 minutes. Cushions are needed to reduce pressure while they provide comfort and support.
- Skin inspections
These should take place every day. The patient himself can do it with a mirror, or he can ask a family member or the caregiver for help. Areas to be checked are: hips, spine, shoulder blades, elbows, heels, lower back, buttocks, tailbone, legs, and feet.
A balanced diet is vital to maintain the skin's health and to promote fast healing, however, the people that need a good diet the most are the ones that seldom eat well. The advice of a dietician or nutritionist is imperative to identify what the patient needs.
If the patient is a smoker, the best thing he or she can do to prevent pressure sores is to quit smoking. As soon as he or she does, the healing process will speed up.
It improves circulation, strengthens muscles, enhances general health and fuels a healthy appetite. Even patients who are bedridden have the possibility to exercise regularly.
The pressure mattress system, the Volkner Turning System, is indispensable for bedsore prevention. The Volkner is a pressure mattress turning system that automatically turns bedridden patients every 4, 5, or 6 minutes, eliminating the need to turn them manually except to treat wounds, for bowel programs, and personal care.