Did you know that low air loss mattresses can help give you a better night's sleep, help prevent bedsores, and improve your overall health? Read the full article to see how they work.
Our beds are generally a source of comfort at the end of the day. We slip under the blankets, lay our head on the pillow and recharge our batteries from a long day. But for someone that is infirm, has mobility issues, or is bedridden, a bed can become a source of pain. A lack of mobility leads to poor circulation and moisture buildup. This can lead to pressure sores which are generally caused by a combination of pressure, shear, and friction on the skin.
The Benefits of Low Air Loss Mattresses in the Treatment of Bedsores
What are Pressure Sores?
Pressure sores are also called pressure ulcers but are more commonly known as bedsores. These painful sores can develop when you are unable to shift your position to alleviate pressure on a portion of your body. This can result in oxygen being cut off to your skin for a prolonged period of time, causing the skin to die. Leading to sores and possibly infection. Most often, this happens if you're bedridden, or in a wheelchair and are unable to easily shift your position. As you get older, bedsores become quite common, one reason for this is because the skin becomes thinner with age. Did you know that damage to your skin can start to happen in as little as 2 to 3 hours of disrupted blood flow and nutrients to an area of your body?
These sores will most commonly form in the boney areas of your body that lack padding, such as your tailbone, spine, elbows, ankles, heels, and hips. The boniness of these areas also is a reason these pressure sores are so painful and why prevention is the key treatment strategy. That being said, these sores can range from being mildly uncomfortable, to extremely painful. If left untreated, these bedsores can also lead to sepsis, cellulitis, or other serious infections. Furthermore, pressure ulcers are generally categorized from Stage I to Stage IV, with Stage IV being the most severe. Pressure ulcers are categorized into these stages based on how deep they are. Intervention by healthcare professionals and other caregivers at the early stages of pressure sores can aid in their healing.
In addition to other forms of movement and therapy, healthcare professionals are recommending the use of a low air loss mattress for in-home care. These mattresses are also used in hospital settings to prevent pressure sores in immobile patients.
Low Air Loss Mattresses Explained
Low air loss (LAL) mattresses are actually quite ingenious as they use two basic principles, (1) they mimic the body's natural nighttime movement to decrease pressure points, and (2) they help reduce the environment of moisture and bacteria that further contributes to the creation of skin ulcers.
This style of mattress was originally designed and invented by Dr. John Tracey Scales, a physician, lecturer, and professor at Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Middlesex, United Kingdom. He published clinical findings of his invention in 1976. This early invention and findings served as a base model for many successive iterations in low air loss and alternating pressure mattresses.
If you have normal body movements and a normal level of body sensitivity, you will instinctively move throughout the night, preventing any pressure on one part of your body for too long. However, if you have diminished sensation or lack of mobility, you may be unaware that your skin has been under pressure for too long and won't change your position to relieve the pressure. If the pressure is not relieved, the lack of oxygen and nutrients to your skin, will damage the tissue to the point it breaks down and dies.
Low air loss mattresses mimic the motion of the body by alternating air pressure from one inflatable tube in the mattress to another, resulting in pressure applied to different parts of the body. The control and mattress system is quiet, the sensation is quite gentle, allowing you to sleep comfortably throughout the night.
Modern mattresses also blow air through tiny laser micro air holes in the surface of the mattress to discourage the formation of moisture and push air between the skin and the mattress. This airflow keeps the skin free from excess moisture and bacteria build-up, allowing you to sleep comfortably.
Alternatively, low air loss mattresses are also known as alternating pressure mattresses. Not only do they mimic the movement of the body, but the mattress system incorporates a cover material to reduce moisture build-up and increase airflow to keep the skin cool and dry.
There are two choices when it comes to low air loss mattresses - On-Demand Low Air Loss and True Air Loss. As the name indicates "on-demand" low air loss mattresses, can be turned on and off. This means that the motion created by the mattress system is an option. A True air loss mattress runs continuously. These mattresses are well documented as clinically effective and provide a good therapeutic environment for treatment, prevention, and reduction of the severity and occurrence of bedsores.
Benefits of a Low Air Loss Mattress
- Able to reduce hospitalizations by reducing ulcers
- Greater comfort
- Better night sleep for well being and improved health
- LAL mattresses are quick and easy to set up
- The mattresses are reliable and durable
- Wide range of models generally ranging from $900 to $10,000
- pulsation therapy can be quite soothing
- Increased blood flow
Two of our favourite companies that have a variety of innovative choices in low air loss mattresses are Drive Medical and Invacare Company. Both companies have a wide selection of Low Air Loss Mattresses, but Drive Medical does have more options at a lower price range. One unique option is Drive's 5" Med Aire Low Air Loss Mattress Overlay (Model 14029N). This is a 36" by 80" mattress overlay that has consistent airflow and a nylon cover that attached by straps. Additionally, it is has a machine washable cover. This mattress overlay can sometimes be found on sale for under $900.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is essential to good health and well-being. It is also critical for your body's rejuvenation and healing. If you have mobility issues, having an improper mattress can result in injury, thus robbing you of your sleep.
To recap all of this information, if you have trouble with your mobility, or are finding yourself with bedsores, then a low air loss mattress is something you should definitely invest in. Not only will it prevent you from developing bedsores, but it will also allow you to get a better night's sleep, which is essential for your overall health.
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