What are the support surfaces used for pressure reduction in patients with pressure injuries (pressure ulcers)?

Updated: Mar 26, 2020
  • Author: Christian N Kirman, MD; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, MSc, DSc, AGAF  more...
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These support surfaces may be divided into dynamic systems, which require an energy source to alternate pressure points, and static systems, which rely on redistribution of pressure over a large surface area and do not require an energy source. Each device may be further described as either pressure-reducing or pressure-relieving. Pressure-relieving devices consistently reduce pressure below capillary closing pressure; pressure-reducing devices keep pressures lower than standard hospital beds but not consistently below capillary closing pressure.

These pressure-relief surfaces are often heavy, expensive, and difficult to clean, and they require ongoing maintenance to ensure proper function. In addition, they must be used properly to be effective. The patient’s head and shoulders should be only minimally elevated on one pillow or a foam wedge to reduce shear forces and prevent the patient from “bottoming out” or having the sacrum or ischial tuberosities resting on the bed frame.

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