People that sit for prolonged periods of time in a wheelchair are at a much higher risk of developing pressure sores. Pressure sores happen when the blood supply no longer reaches the skin in a particular area. When someone sits in a wheelchair for long periods, skin is under pressure because sitting in one position results in pressure sores forming. So, How Do People In Wheelchairs Prevent Pressure Sores? They eat right, stay hydrated, re-position every 20 minutes, use proper seat cushions, and other techniques to steer clear of sores.
Because wheelchair users tend to spend longer times sitting on their buttocks these are the most common areas that pressure sores form. However, this is not the only place you can experience them. The shoulder blades, heels, and ball of the foot are also other places wheelchair users can experience sores.
How to avoid pressure sores while sitting in a wheelchair
- We have written extensively about proper fitting wheelchairs. This is one of the first things you should make sure of when you purchase a wheelchair. It should fit properly for your size and weight. An improper wheelchair size can cause pain, discomfort, and could lead to pressure sores.
- Re-positioning in the chair is highly recommended. One of the biggest things you can do when sitting in a wheelchair to prevent pressure sores is to re-position your weight from time-to-time. This allows the skin to get blood to the areas that you have been sitting on. You should shift your weight every 15-20 minutes to increase blood flow.
- Wheelchair cushions for pressure sores are extremely important to maintaining healthy skin and reduce pressure sores. Using the proper wheelchair cushions can help to distribute weight while sitting making blood flow easier to the skin. There are also proper wheelchair back cushions that also help with preventing pressure sores on the back.
- Sitting in the middle of the wheelchair can help with minimizing pressure sores while sitting in a manual wheelchair or electric chair. This can help with skin chafing and irration that can lead to sores and other painful skin problems for prolonged sitting.
- Sitting with proper posture can help reduce pressure sores. Sitting with proper posture can help with better blood flow that can help with minimizing pressure sores and other painful outcomes that come with prolong sittings in a wheelchair.
- Wear proper clothing. When wearing clothing that is to tight or to loose can cause skin irration. Loose clothing can bunch up and cause pressure to build on the skin area that will help promote pressure and cut off blood supply to the skin.
Inspect your skin for pressure sores
You should inspect your skin regularly at least once in the morning and at bedtime. This can help to identify skin irritations early on in the process and you can easily address the issues.
There are levels to pressure sores and the higher the number the more intense and dangerous they become.
- Look for skin color changes. Either darkening or redness is a sign. Also bruises, blisters, scraped or dry skin can be the onset of a pressure sore.
- Check your skin at least two times a day. Once in the morning and once at bedtime.
- Heat around the area that could have a pressure sore is a tell tale sign. If you feel warmth, hardness, or swelling may be a sign that a pressure sore is forming.
- Check high risk areas of the body for pressure sores. The below are areas that are at a higher risk then others.
- Lower back
- hips (From tight clothes)
- Back of head
If you find a discolored area of skin it is important to stay off that area until it comes back to normal. If any of the areas are damaged and a sore is forming you need to tread the area as quickly as you can so no further damage happens.
Keep skin dry and clean
- It is essential to keep your skin clean and dry properly after bathing. You should bathe daily in warm water and use a mild soap to clean yourself. You should also be sure to fully dry yourself off including folds in the skin and at the genital area as well.
- If accidents accur during the day or night it is important to immediately wash and dry the area of the skin completely.
- Stay clear of powders and harsh soaps. It is also benificial to use any moisturizer that have been approved by your doctor.
Make sure you stay hydrated to prevent pressure sores in Wheelchairs
This should go without saying. But staying hydrated by drinking enough water daily will also your skin to stay healthier and hydrated.
This in return can help with pressure sores not forming as easily. Proper water intake also helps with you feeling better overall.
Drinks that are high in caffeine like coffee and soft drinks may actually cause dehydration quicker and make sitting more uncomfortable quicker than if you are hydrated with water.
What you eat matters
What you eat also matters. Just like staying hydrated and drinking proper amounts of water eating the right foods can also help with pressure sores by keeping skin healthy.
Try to eat the proper amount of fruits and vegetables to keep your body tissue to keep rebuilding. When eating poor nutrition meals your body tissues will slow in the rebuilt process.
Asking your doctor about a healthy diet is also recommended. Take the proper type of blood test to check your levels. Eating and drinking the right foods and water can make a big difference to your health, how you feel, and keep your skin healthy.
Our final thoughts on How Do People In Wheelchairs Prevent Pressure Sores
For those who need to spend time in a wheelchair pressure sores are a real problem and if not treated can quickly become more painful and dangerous. To help prevent pressure sores and other skin problems require certain easy-to-follow steps to help ensure skin problems like sores don’t happen.
Be sure to move regularly, use proper cushions, stay clean and dry, wear the proper clothing, and check twice a day for sores that may be developing so you can correct the issues quickly before they get worst.
Following these simple methods can help anyone stay healthy and pressure sore-free while in a wheelchair.