Learn About Pressure Injuries

Learn about pressure injuries, patients may be at risk or even elevated risk from pressure injury within a very short period of time if re-positioning and pressure relief do not take place. The added effect of shearing and friction forces.

Back pressure map

What are pressure injuries?

Pressure injuries can happen when you are bedridden or otherwise unable to move, unconscious, or unable to sense pain. Pressure injuries are sores (ulcers) that happen on areas of the skin that are under pressure. The pressure can come from lying in bed, sitting in a wheelchair, or wearing a cast for a long time. Pressure injuries are also called bedsores, pressure sores, or decubitus ulcers.

Pressure injuries can be a serious problem in frail older adults. They can be related to the quality of care the person receives. Pressure injuries can develop if you must stay in bed or aren’t able to move and aren’t turned, positioned correctly, and given good nutrition and skin care. You are at higher risk for pressure injuries if you have diabetes, circulation problems, or poor nutrition.

Sitting pressure map

What causes pressure injuries?

A pressure injury develops when pressure cuts off the blood supply to the skin for a long period of time. Lack of blood flow to the skin leads to skin cells dying. This first starts as a red, painful area. It then turns purple. Left untreated, the skin can break open, and the area can become infected.

A pressure injury can become deep. It can extend into the muscle and bones. Once a pressure injury develops, it’s often very slow to heal. Depending on the severity of the pressure injury, your physical condition, nutritional status, and the presence of other diseases such as diabetes, pressure injuries can take days, months, or even years to heal. They may need surgery to help the healing process.

Pressure injuries often happen on the:

  • Buttocks area, on the tailbone or hips
  • Heels of the feet
  • Shoulder blades
  • Back of the head
  • Backs and sides of the knees or sides of the ankles

How are pressure injuries treated?

Specific treatment of a pressure injury is discussed with you by your healthcare provider and wound care team. It’s based on how serious the injury is.

It may include

  • Removing pressure on the affected area
  • Protecting the wound with medicated gauze or other special dressings
  • Keeping the wound clean
  • Ensuring good nutrition
  • Removing the damaged, infected, or dead tissue (debridement)
  • Transplanting healthy skin to the wound area (skin grafts)
  • Negative pressure wound therapy

Medicines such as antibiotics treat infections. Healthcare providers will watch the pressure injury closely. They will take note of the size, depth, and response to treatment.

Side pressure map

Treatment for pressure ulcer injuries?

  • If you’re at risk of getting pressure ulcers or have a minor ulcer, your care team will recommend a specially designed static foam or dynamic mattress. If you have a more serious ulcer, you’ll need a more sophisticated mattress or bed system, such as a mattress connected to a pump that delivers a constant flow of air into the mattress. There is also a range of foam or pressure-redistributing cushions available. Ask your carer or our team about the types most suitable for you.

    Check out of range of mattresses and profiling beds.

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