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Pressure Sores: Pressure-Relieving Devices and Supports

Topic Overview

Several pressure-relieving devices and supports can be used to prevent or treat pressure sores. These include:

  • Special foam overlays for mattresses. Talk to your doctor about where to get this special foam for medical use.
  • "Air-fluidized" support, which forces air through a special covering on the bed to make it softer or more like liquid. The air can be turned alternately on and off, to periodically relieve the pressure. This device can be used in a bed or on an operating table.
  • Special sheepskin overlays on mattresses. Talk to your doctor about where to get this special sheepskin for medical use.
  • Constant low-pressure supports, such as mattresses, overlays, and cushions made of high-density or contoured foam that can be filled with air, water, beads, or fiber. These supports help distribute body weight evenly and may relieve contact pressure.
  • Low air-loss beds, which have inflatable upright sacs made of a special fabric in their mattresses. The inflated sacs help distribute body weight more evenly over the mattress and may relieve pressure on the skin.

The foam called "egg crate," with bumps that look like the inside of an egg carton, has been used in the past. But egg-crate foam has not been shown to help prevent or treat pressure sores.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Margaret Doucette, DO - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Wound Care, Hyperbaric Medicine
Last Revised February 22, 2013

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