Do you ever sit on your sofa at night watching the TV when you realise that you need to readjust position to sit more comfortably? Or do you lie in bed for a period of time and realise you have been lying on your arm too long and need to move?
Have you ever thought what would happen if you could not move yourself or you sat/lay in the same position for extended periods?
A pressure injury, also known as a pressure ulcer, pressure sore or bed sore, are caused by unrelieved pressure on any part of the body. Anytime you lie or sit down in the same position for a period of time, pressure is applied to different parts of your body.
Injuries are to underlying tissue and usually over a bony prominences such as heels, ankles, hips and tailbones. Pressure injures can also be caused by frequent friction or shear forces during transfers or movements. Some pressure injuries if not managed correctly can lead to lengthy hospital admissions or at the very worse can be life threatening.
What signs to look out for
- Part of the skin becomes discoloured (people with pale skin tend to get red patches, while people with dark skin tend to get purple or blue patches)
- The spot may also feel different from the surrounding skin – firmer or softer, warmer or cooler
- Tender to touch, burning or itching
Pressure injuries can be like an iceberg, look fairly small and uneventful on the surface….but underneath a large issue – causing complications to unseen skin layers and in the more serious of injuries tendons, joints or the bone!
How to prevent a pressure injury
Movement! Frequent change of position. If you use a wheelchair shift position within your chair about every 15 minutes. If you spend most of your time in bed change position at least once every two hours, even during the night if able. Get in the habit of doing a regular skin check of get someone to do this for you. Contact a healthcare professional if you are concerned that a pressure injury has occurred and is not getting any better. If pressure injury management is going to be an issue and you are not able to regularly change position or move then there are a few products out there to assist management of a current pressure injury or to prevent one from occurring.