How to Prevent Bedsores: Exercises for pressure care patients

23 November 2016

112316 Prevent bedsores

Patients confined to a bed or chair for extended periods of time are at risk of developing pressure ulcers, also known as ‘pressure sores’ or ‘bedsores.’ Not only do these sores cause pain and discomfort, there’s also a risk of infection and, once established, they can be very difficult to treat. Prevention is ultimately the best remedy.

Known to occur in areas where there’s too much pressure on the skin, the most common zones pressure sores develop are the shoulder blades, hips, tailbone, elbows and heels. Caregivers recommend putting pillows under these common areas and between parts of your body that press against each other, such as knees and ankles if lying on your side.

Position changes every couple of hours, supportive devices, skin care and a nutritious diet are all effective preventative measures; and here we’ll also explore four motion exercises that carers can assist patients with to reduce the risk of bedsores.

We advise first consulting your physician before commending these activities and putting together a custom exercise plan suited to your needs.

  1. Ankle stretches

    Performed to increase circulation and improve range of motion, caregivers hold the ankle and heel, slowly bending the food forward and upwards for several seconds. This is to be done when the patient is lying on their back.

  2. Leg Lifts

    Depending on the patients strength, leg lifts a couple of times per day are effective by slowly bringing the leg up to the hip joint and holding for 10-20 seconds.

  3. Palm Stretches

    Patients begin by bringing their hand towards their body. Open the palm and extend fingers for a few seconds, then proceed by touching your thumb with each finger.

  4. Arm lifts

    Lift your arm as high as you can manage and try to hold for ten seconds. If lifting your whole arm is too difficult, try placing your upper arm on the bed and bending your elbow to bring your forearm to a 90 degree angle.

You may not be able to feel a bedsore developing, so ask your carer to perform daily checks, particularly over bony areas, to look for early warning signs. Consult your healthcare professionals if you come across red, purple, blue, torn or swollen skin; cracks, calluses and wrinkles or signs of infection such as skin warmth.

Treatment methods include dressings to keep the sore moist and neighbouring skin dry. Infection prevention by packing empty skin spaces with dressings, application of appropriate solutions, drugs and chemicals, or in extreme cases where infection is persistent, surgery to remove the damaged tissue.

Preventing pressure sores is key to maintaining a high level of care. Pressure sores can lead to reduced social interaction, pain and discomfort, which significantly impacts your quality of life. In addition to having an appropriate level of care plan in place there are many products available to assist with your specific care and comfort needs.  Contact one of our consultants who would be more than happy to discuss your needs with you.

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