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A. Problem Specifics
For wheelchair users to fully enjoy their time in the wheelchair, especially for extended periods, they must be in a balanced position. That is, not slouching, leaning backward of forward, sacral sitting or slumping. The ideal position is a neutral tilt, not positioned outside the “box”, without a rear pelvic tilt or with the pelvis not in the sacral position when sitting but having anterior support.
Good posture for wheelchair users is critical because they are at a higher risk of getting bedsores because of poor circulation and leg movement due to their disability, be it permanent or temporary.
B. Causes and Symptoms
If the wheelchair user doesn’t move around much, bed sores can develop that affect tissues at a deeper layer that can damage the bone, tendons and muscles. Bedsores come about when the sufferer is recuperating from a stroke or surgical procedure due to insufficient movement, minimal ability to move and/or bad blood circulation. They can appear as cracks on the skin or as bad a open deep sores and can be very painful.
Other typical causes of bedsores include growing old, skin abrasions, diabetic issues, poor eating habits, un-awareness, sensitive skin, incontinence and extended wheelchair usage.
1. Growing Old. Older patients might have limited mobility and cannot exercise as they did before. As their mobility decreases, chances of bedsores increase.
2. Skin Abrasions. The result of rubbing on bed sheets due to frequent pulling and pushing and clothing that is too tight.
3. Diabetic Issues. Results in nerve problems, impedes blood-flow blood circulation, weakens general health and slows down regular healing
4. Poor Diet. Lack of adequate foods for better well-being generally results in tiredness, low energy for physical activity or simply ordinary movement and reduces blood flow increasing the chances of getting bedsores.
5. Unawareness. Patients with limited mental ability such as those with Alzheimer’s might have bedsores and not be aware of it or how to even prevent them from occurring.
6. Sensitive Skin. Sensitive or delicate skin is more susceptible to irritation that can easily lead to bedsores.
7. Incontinence. Bedsores happen quicker in patients with incontinence issues. The skin is more susceptible to infections making bedsores appear more quickly.
8. Wheelchair Usage. People who have to use wheelchairs for extended periods can develop bedsores due to lack of circulation in the legs.
For wheelchair users, a cushion specially designed for wheelchairs will help to relieve poor posture problems.
D. Caution With Solutions
Even though the cushion is an easy solution, be sure the correct size is chosen or it might not be as effective. Cushions change over time so be aware of any changes to the cushions and to the comfort of the wheelchair user.