People with Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI) constitute the highest population of patients that stand the risk of developing pressure ulcers, also known as pressure sores. These pressure sores result from skin or underlying tissue damage due to blood flow loss. SCI patients are highly vulnerable to pressure ulcers. These sores present a common offset against combating SCI repercussions.
The pressure sores often reappear causing distressing complications, regular hospitalisation, and multiple surgeries. Impaired mobility coupled with lack of sensation can be a devastating experience for any individual. Additionally, the ulcers present a substantial amount of healthcare expenses. Luckily, there are a number of tips and methods to help prevent and cope with the pressure ulcers after a spinal injury.
As a matter of fact, thousands of spinal cord injury individuals are competently living free of post-injury sores for many years. It should, however, be noted that prevention of pressure sores is easier than cure, which ultimately costs more.
Below are a number of tips that can be incorporated into the patient’s life to enable them successfully live with a spinal cord injury without the occurrence of post-injury sores. Whether it is an upgrade of equipment like wheelchair cushion or switching to the right eating habits, these tips can maintain the skin in a great condition that is free of sores.
Nutrition is an essential aspect of healing any wound. Incorporating the right amounts of proteins in a daily diet is one of the basic ways of preventing pressure sores. Protein is vital for the general health and wellness of a person.
The ability of proteins to synthesise enzymes, connective tissues, collagen, and multiply cells not only prevents pressure sores but also expedites the healing process and preserves lean body mass. Deficiency of proteins predisposes a patient to higher chances of slow or failed wound healing. Proteins can be found in eggs, fish, meat, beans, protein bars, protein shakes, nuts, spinach, and poultry.
Minerals and vitamins supplementation should be administered to sufficient levels. Water, on the other hand, is well known for its great effects on the skin. Drinking plenty of water and eating varied vegetables help in preventing pressure sores.
Peas, green pepper, avocados, cabbage, and sweet potatoes have great nutritional value. A wider variety of vegetables consequently results in a wider variety of minerals and vitamins for the body. They are great for the prevention of sores. Water helps to hydrate and strengthen the skin to achieve impressive results. However, soda and alcohol do not count as fluids here. One can always balance them out with equal amounts of water.
Custom seating is a great option for guarding against pressure sores. It is not a necessary requirement but it is good for SCI patients. Jay or Roho cushion is popular among many SCI patients. However, if you find them uncomfortable and ill fitting, they may have negative effects on the tush, including skin damage and pressure sores.
The computerized pressure mapping helps in spotting the pressure-exerted areas. The seating specialists specifically create a seat for an individual according to high-pressure parts. Achieving comfort by redistributing pressure can greatly reduce the occurrence of pressure ulcers.
The proper choice of clothes and shoes is crucial in preventing pressure ulcers. When they are constricting or too tight, they are likely to cause skin breakdown. Similarly, the same can occurs when a person uses bulky back pockets and seats for many hours of the day. Tight shoes can as well cause swelling of the feet and pressure sores. It is important to choose shoes that perfectly fit to avoid these sores, half-size bigger shoes are recommended.
With clothing, it is advisable to avoid constricting and ill-fitting garments. One should not exaggerate on embellishments, as they may not be good for the skin. Always make sure that the fabric is not too loose to cause damage to the skin when you sit.
Engaging in pressure release exercises is essential for anyone who does not move much during the day. Be sure to do these exercises at least three to five times a day. Some quadriplegics and paraplegics can release tush pressure by holding the under-knee and slowly raising the leg while stretching the thigh for ten to twenty seconds. This should be done to each leg after several hours.
Quadriplegics who cannot manage to do this can alternatively get a tilt power wheelchair that takes the pressure off by tilting the whole body backward. These exercises are essential in relieving pressure and potential risks of pressure ulcers.
Pillows can also be used to pad body parts while in bed. This helps to keep bony prominences pressure-free. The body alignment should also be regularly checked so that the skin is not deprived of blood flow. A person should also frequently change position whether in bed or wheelchair to be relieved of any unnecessary pressure.
In addition to the above measures, checking your skin on a daily basis is an important way of preventing pressure sores. This can be done in either the morning or night, depending on your preferred time. You can use the mirror for a backside view to spot any warning signals of skin breakdown or sores. If you have a caregiver to assist, make certain that every part of the body is inspected with keen attention to spot any sore. The chances of healing quickly from a surfacing sore are optimal so it is important to identify them before they progress to stage one.
There are necessary measures and resources that can help a person cope comprehensively and successfully with pressure sores. They aid in the prevention and reduction of potential causes of pressure ulcers, which exert excess pressure on the skin and restrict blood flow. Regularly monitoring the skin, daily exercises, a well-balanced diet with right amounts of vitamins and minerals, right clothing and comfortable seating are among the preventive measures an SCI patient can adopt to stay both healthy and functional.
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