What is a Pressure Sore?
A pressure sore, more properly known as a pressure ulcer or decubitus ulcer, is a lesion caused by many factors such as: pressure; friction; humidity; shearing forces; temperature; age; moisture and medication; to any part of the body, especially portions over bony or cartilaginous areas such as sacrum/tail bone, elbows, knees, ankles etc. (definition taken in part from Wikipedia).
Stages of Pressure Sores
Pressure sores are categorized by severity, from Stage 1 (earliest signs) to Stage IV (worst):
- Stage I: A reddened area on the skin that, when pressed, is "nonblanchable" (does not turn white). This indicates that a pressure ulcer is starting to develop.
- Stage II: The skin blisters or forms an open sore. The area around the sore may be red and irritated.
- Stage III: The skin breakdown now looks like a crater where there is damage to the tissue below the skin.
- Stage IV: The pressure ulcer has become so deep that there is damage to the muscle and bone, and sometimes tendons and joints.
Taken from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007071.htm
You have increased risk for developing pressure sores if for example you are on bedrest, using a wheelchair full time, have fragile skin, have a chronic condition such as diabetes which prevents areas of the body from getting proper blood flow, if you do not eat properly or have urinary or bowel incontinence. There are many other factors that can increase your risk of pressure sores. These may include how transfer for example - if you constantly rub your buttocks on the wheel of the wheelchair your skin can breakdown. Another risk factor is if you are in bed with the head of the bed elevated past 30 degrees. Shearing can/will occur or added pressure will be on the skin and bones and you may get sores around your coccyx (or tailbone). If you cannot move yourself at night and do not have a suitable sleep surface you are also at risk for pressure sores.
The therapists at Therapy First can help to assess all areas of your life in order to identify where your skin may be at risk.
Throughout our therapeutic relationship with you, we will analyze your equipment, sitting and lying surfaces and lifestyle and intervene accordingly to help prevent pressure sores from occurring.
In the event that you have a pressure sore, our therapists can help by doing an assessment of what may have caused the sore. The sore could be due to pressure resulting from a wheelchair cushion, a mattress, a commode or toilet seat, a bath seat, a vehicle seat, shearing caused by transfers, a fall, a crinkle in clothing, excess moisture on already fragile skin, poor nutrition or a multitude of other factors. Once the cause is determined we can find a solution! We will make sure all aspects of pressure sore prevention and treatment are considered.
What is a pressure sore?
The cost of pressure sores
Pressure Sores - SCI Symposium 2001