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Low Air Loss Mattress Question

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    Low Air Loss Mattress Question

    I was at my daughter's apartment in Tucson for Thanksgiving. (PCA's are all students at University of Arizona so I head to Tucson to help her and just have a good time!)

    I was thinking about this as I was getting her ready for bed....she has a low air loss mattress. She received it after getting a sacral pressure sore her freshman year... it was a rough first year. Does she still need to keep her heels elevated in bed at night? We are keeping them up but I wonder if it is necessary with a low air loss mattress?

    Also, I caught her with the head of the bed up for over two hours. She fell asleep that way. The mattress is pretty great but I'm a little concerned that, over time, she could develop another sacral pressure sore?

    Yes, while you have lower interface pressures between the mattress and skin with most LAL mattresses, it is still common to have pressures above capillary closure pressures (tested at between 15-17mm Hg. in people with SCI/D vs. those who are AB where it averages about 32mm. Hg.).

    This is why it is still important to turn, and to bridge areas like heels, when using one of these mattresses. Sacral skin breakdown when laying on ones back has an increased risk with the head of the bed (HOB) is elevated more than 30 degrees, as this tends to add shear to the pressure causing skin breakdown. Most true LAL mattresses have a cover that reduces shear (compared to normal sheets) which is one reason that it is recommended to not use sheets or bed pads over these covers but to lay directly on the LAL mattress cover in bed if at all possible.

    In addition, areas with previous skin breakdown which heal with scar tissue will always be more vulnerable than un-scarred skin to development of pressure injury in the future.

    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.