Looking After your Skin as a Wheelchair User Part 1

A pressure injury is a damage to an area of skin and the underlying soft tissue. It can occur when the skin is compressed by a hard bony surface due to force being placed on this area over a long time.

Pressure sores present as Pressure sores may feel:
– Red patches on light skin and blue or
– Hard purple patches on dark skin – Swollen
– Swelling of the skin – Hot
– Blisters or broken skin – Moist or dry

Pressure sores may develop anywhere on the skin but are likely to occur on bony areas where pressure is applied such as:
· Buttocks
· Base of spine / along the spine
· Hips
· Heels
· Shoulder blades
· Elbows

Pressure sores develop when an area of the body is placed under pressure for a period of time. This includes a person who remains in a wheelchair for long stretches of time and for those who find it difficult to change position freely. As a wheelchair user, the prevention of developing a pressure sore is essential!
To prevent pressure sores developing the following tips are recommended:

1. Changing positions:
· Make sure to change your position frequently while seated in your wheelchair. This ensures that the pressure is redistributed. If you cannot do so yourself, ask for help
· Changing positions includes independent weight shifting (e.g. chair push up, leaning forward or to the side), transfers and moving from your chair to lying in your bed

· How frequently you reposition in your chair depends on individual factors such as your skin integrity, cushion, medical condition and activity level
· A rough recommendation is to weigh shift every 15 minutes if you can do so yourself. If you need help to change position this should be done at least once an hour. Stay in this new position for approximately 4 minutes
· If you have tilt-in-space on your chair, use it!

October 2022

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