You need adequate blood circulation to keep your cells alive. When circulation is cut off — as it is when you sit or lie in one place for a while — the cells cannot get blood and oxygen. They die and sores may develop.
Pressure can come from outside the body. The pressure of your weight pushes your bones onto blood vessels and cuts off circulation. Cells can die in 30 minutes if they do not have proper circulation.
You should do pressure releases every 15 minutes, and hold the position for between 30 and 60 seconds. This will take the pressure off your tailbone and other bones that you sit on.
Releases may include:
Work with your rehabilitation team to determine the best releases for you.
Changing your body posture and position will take pressure off bony areas. There are different things you can do, depending on whether you are in a bed or a wheelchair.
Avoid problems by:
There may be early warning signs that pressure is causing damage. These signs include redness and firmness. You should check for them when you do your skin checks.
There are four stages of pressure sores, which are also known as decubitus ulcers. The deeper the pressure sore, the more serious the problem.
Unstagable pressure ulcers are covered by thick yellow slough or a scab. Pressure ulcers that have a deep purple or maroon color may be a deep tissue injury that has not yet opened on the surface of the skin.
Pressure sores can be treated. Successful treatment, however, depends on finding them early and removing the cause.
You may need surgery or a specialist to help with treatment. Pressure sores take a long time to heal, and the skin will still have scar tissue.
If you've had a stroke, transplant, or severe injury, inpatient physical rehab can help you restore function.
The UPMC Rehabilitation Institute offers expert inpatient and transitional rehab care for a range of health concerns, including:
We can start your rehab while you're still in the hospital.