Perfect harmony for pressure ulcer prevention

17/09/2015 14:19:50

This week we explore the different types of bed systems that are available and how they work to help relieve pressure...

In the battle for pressure ulcer prevention, it is vital that all components of your support surface are working in harmony to achieve their maximum potential. This includes the mattress core and its cover. 
Medical bed systems generally fall into 2 categories:
  • Prevention – to stop avoidable pressure ulcers
  • Therapy – to treat a pressure ulcer once it’s occurred
There can be some overlap with bed systems that provide both these characteristics. This week’s blog post explores the different types of bed systems available.
Reactive surface
A reactive surface mattress works on the principle of pressure redistribution by moulding to the patient’s body shape; this helps to lower pressure at prominent contact areas. 
Typical examples include:
  • Gel
  • Static air
  • Foam – can be made of different densities or work as part of an air system
To maximise pressure redistribution in reactive systems a good degree of stretch in the cover is key, as is the right fit.  These surfaces with high occupancy rates require regular cleaning making the Dartex® Endurance range the perfect choice. 
Non-powered hybrid
Made of foam, with air cells making up the mattress core, the principle of non-powered hybrids is that they work by air displacement.  As the patient moves on the mattress, the air inside transfers into the different cells that make up the mattress core; thus helping to reduce the potential for cell and tissue breakdown.
For this example we recommend that a mattress cover with four-way stretch is used to allow optimal movement within the mattress core for optimal pressure relief.  
Non-powered hybrid systems are often used in acute environments with high patient turnover so Dartex® Endurance is an excellent choice to maximise the cover life and further increase the general lifetime of these products.
Powered hybrid 
Like the non-powered hybrid, this mattress system is also made of foam and air cells. Where it differs is that a pump can be attached to inflate and deflate specific air cells within the mattress transforming a reactive foam surface into an alternating pressure system.
A Dartex® mattress cover made with good 4-way stretch, such as a Dartex® Resilience fabric could be a good choice here as when it is being used without the pump, it requires optimal pressure redistribution to maximise the patient benefit.
Alternating surface
An alternating mattress surface requires a power supply to mechanically vary the pressure beneath patients, with cyclical inflation and deflation of sections of the support surface. This allows pressure to be transferred from parts of the patient and then reapplied, reducing the duration of pressure. 
When choosing an appropriate mattress cover for this type of system, Dartex® Performance or Endurance are suitable and a 2-way stretch fabric is often sufficient.  
The advantage of the Dartex® materials is that they are much quieter than many direct coated alternatives.  This helps to reduce the noise in the patient environment, which in turn can aid the patient’s acceptance of using this type of surface.
Low air loss systems 
These allow air to escape through small holes; replacement air is then continually pumped around the system to keep the mattress inflated. This type of support surface is used when microclimate management is essential in keeping the patient’s skin cool and dry. A Dartex® MicroClimate cover offers advanced moisture vapour permeability (MVP), making it a great choice for a low air loss system.
Air fluidised systems
At the top of the pyramid, air fluidised systems offer the ultimate support for patients. Air is forced through tiny particles, which then takes on the properties of a liquid. The benefit of this system is that the patient essentially 'floats' on the surface, offering the lowest pressures of all available support surfaces on the skin.
A key factor to the success of this system is the air permeability required to ensure the system works to its optimal potential. Dartex® offers a specially developed fabric, UltimateAir which provides a waterproof barrier, but allows air to move freely over the surface.  
Want to know more? Talk to our technical team. 
They’re always happy to discuss your queries 

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