Ethos joins pressure relief campaign day
Our friends at the Spinal Injuries Association are today (November 19th 2020) highlighting the issue of pressure relief and the serious problems that can be caused by the development of pressure ulcers.
It’s part of a worldwide drive led by the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel to publicise the issue to the public, health and social care professionals and politicians.
Many of our clients, both past and present have had first-hand experience of pressure ulcers and it is a problem that we take very seriously. So we’ve asked some of our charity’s trustees and clients with decades of experience between them to share their thoughts.
Ethos charity trustee and former physiotherapy manager, Pat Moore
“One of the main reasons for disabled people to have to stay on bed rest is a problem with their skin. Sitting or lying for too long in one position and then ignoring the issue can result in a pressure sore. Unrelieved pressure forces the blood supply from an area which then starts to deteriorate. Deterioration can lead to tissue death, sepsis and even death.
“The old saying 'prevention is better than the cure' is very true. All new spinal injury patients are taught to try to relieve pressure on a regular basis every 15 minutes if possible, particularly when sitting.
“You should never sit on the wheelchair canvas alone. There are several pressure relieving cushions available on the market but don’t buy the cheapest because it's the cheapest. Similarly don't buy the dearest because it's the dearest, assuming that means it must be good. Try some out and take advice from your therapist. Some have special features such as helping to improve posture but again take advice first.
“Make sure your transfers are as good as you can get them so you're not scraping your skin as you move. Always check your skin every night and keep your tail as clean and dry as possible. Remember that nothing beats good self-care.”
Ethos charity trustee and spinal injuries case manager, Michelle Bunyan
“Pressure sores are common in people with a spinal cord injury. However, they can also be devastating. Pressure sores can result in months of bed rest, surgery or can, at times kill. The great thing is that spinal centres work well to educate their patients in the need for prevention and quick action even if it is only a red mark.”
Former Ethos charity trustee and spinal injury patient, Marcus Watkin
“My initial problems were mainly caused by lack of manoeuvrability due to my injuries which meant that I was constantly on my back. Some relief was experienced from using a turning bed which did help. For many years now I have been using a pressure relieving mattress which has helped immensely.
“I spent four months at North Staffs Hospital and approximately nine months at the specialist spinal unit at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital at Oswestry before being discharged.
“Once I left hospital I had continuing problems with pressure sores. This impacted my day-to-day living quite substantially in that I was often on bed rest to try and heal. This was done by carefully deciding if and when I should be up and for how long. Many, many days were spent on bed rest which did impact on my mental health somewhat but with the help of my carers and family we coped.
“Over the years I have had fewer problems but I still have the occasional mark that flares up if I’ve been up in my chair for a considerable amount of time. So I still have to be careful and keep a close check on it.
“Another issue that can affect skin is the choice of wheelchair cushion. I was on a gel cushion for many years and changed to an air type cushion known as a star lock. This has been a good move as the cushion can be adapted to cope with skin problems, reducing pressure on the problem area. That has helped with healing and meant I could still be up.
“If any spinal injury patients can take anything from my experiences it would be that it’s not plain sailing. It’s often very difficult to arrange your life when you have skin issues. “
If you would like more information on pressure relief take a look at the Spinal Injuries Association factsheet. Or for a lighter hearted approach at getting the message over, watch the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s campaign video from 2019.
Help us spread the word about the work we do to support our clients to live independently again after suffering an injury or illness which has resulted in them needing a wheelchair. Like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn at ethosgrouposwestry
Spinal Injuries Association
European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel
Spinal Injuries Association fact sheet on pressure ulcers
Sheffied Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust campaign video