What is a pressure injury?
A pressure injury is localized damage to the skin and/or underlying soft tissue usually over a bony prominence.
What are the causes of pressure injuries?
Pressure - Constant pressure on the skin restricts blood flow; without adequate blood flow, the skin and tissue beneath the skin can die, resulting in chronic wounds known as pressure ulcers/injuries.
Friction - Friction occurs when the skin rubs against clothing or bedding. Friction can make fragile skin more prone to injury.
Shear - Shear occurs when two surfaces move in opposite directions. As an example, if a bed is elevated at the head, it is possible to slide down. As the coccyx moves down, the skin over the bone may stay in place - pulling in the opposite direction.
Moisture - A lack of effective washing and drying of the skin can also contribute to pressure injuries, so it is important you use a mild soap to protect your skin. If the skin is left wet, it can become sore, infected, and quickly broken down. Be sure to thoroughly dry the skin, especially in the folds.
Who is at risk of pressure injuries?
- People who are bedridden due to an illness or medical condition
- People who are unable to move due to pain
- Patients undergoing surgery that takes longer than three hours
- A wheelchair user or someone confined to a seat for an extended period of time
Why is it so important that we raise awareness?
- Hospitalisation - Pressure ulcers affect over 700,000 UK patients every year, frequently increasing the length of a hospital stay by an average of 5-8 days per ulcer.
- An increased need for care - Those with pressure injuries will require extra help with personal care. Individuals can go from being mostly or completely independent to needing a lot of assistance and losing their independence as a result.
- Expense - Pressure injuries cost the NHS more than £3.8 million every day and £1.4 - £2.4 billion per year which is 4% of the total NHS expenditure.
- Personal cost - In addition to the loss of income and increased care costs, people with pressure injuries suffer from a loss of usual activities and sources of enjoyment.
- Death - Each year approximately 60,000 people die from complications of pressure injuries. These deaths most likely result from sepsis, an infection which spreads throughout the body.
What can we do to reduce the pressure?
Gayle Cardwell, an independent occupational therapist, offered advice to the Wealden Rehab team on preventing pressure injuries:
'NICE guidance in 2015 states that one of the many factors contributing to the development of pressure ulcers is when appropriate equipment and beds, for example, do not have appropriate pressure relief.
As an occupational therapist, we frequently select different types of pressure relief as part of the equipment we recommend. We complete relevant risk assessments; we understand the person's current and ongoing needs. We have a professional responsibility to ensure that we recommend the correct equipment.'
Gayle also stresses that 'working closely with district nurses, tissue visibility nurses, other professionals and equipment companies is essential in preventing and treating pressure ulcers.' (Gayle Cardwell for Wealden Rehab 2019)
For more information on managing pressure with care equipment, visit our 'Reduce the Pressure' white paper here.
Call our helpful sales team today to discuss your requirements today on 01634 813388.
Links for research included in this blog:
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