FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is patient positioning?
The term 'patient positioning' is commonly used in association with surgical procedures. When it comes to orthopedic products, patient positioning refers to elevating or immobilizing certain body parts in order to ensure a good posture when lying in bed. Patient bed positioning devices are often used to ensure comfort, prevent injuries, and help the healing process.
What are some different types of patient positioning devices?
The most common patient positioning devices are bed bolsters, positioning wedges, leg spacers, and foot elevators. Foot supports, leg braces, heel protective sleeves, and lumbosacral supports also help immobilize body parts and reduce inflammation.
Bed Bolsters: Meant as constraint-free safety barriers, they prevent patients from accidentally rolling off the side of the bed.
Positioning Wedges: Usually made of foam, they can elevate the upper body or legs, providing gentle support. Some wedges are designed to cradle the back, neck, shoulders, and head. Others can be used as leg spacers, helping align the spine while sleeping.
Foot Elevators: Maintaining space between the heel and the bed, they help the skin heal, reducing the risk for pressure sores.
What are bedsores or pressure ulcers?
Bedsores can happen when you have to lie or sit in the same position for too long. What happens is the weight of your body presses the skin against the bed and cuts the blood supply to pressured areas. At first, the skin may redden and feel warm to the touch. Although it can be accompanied by pain, burning, or itching, this is actually the mildest stage of bedsores.
As time passes without moving or using patient positioning devices, the sore can dig deeper and break the skin, leaving open wounds or blisters that can take up to three weeks to heal. Stage 3 pressure ulcers need more care and can take up to four months to heal, while stage 4 bedsores are so serious that they can even affect muscles and ligaments.
Common sites of bedsores are shoulder blades, the back of the head, hips, lower back, heels, ankles, and knees. Elderly people are at a higher risk, as are bed-ridden patients that suffer from diabetes or circulation problems.
What is a hospital bed bolster?
Hospital bed bolsters are essential positioning devices for bed-bound patients. Their main role is to prevent patients from rolling off the bed, but they can also be placed close together to securely position the patient on one side, as needed. They can serve as rail cushions and barriers, preventing the head or limbs from being caught between the side rails and the mattress.
How can I prevent bedsores?
The most efficient prevention measure is to turn and reposition at least every two hours while lying in bed or every 15 minutes when in a wheelchair. Pressure can also be reduced with adequate bed padding that improves air circulation and helps distribute weight evenly. Good nutrition and good skincare also help prevent bedsores, as well as heal mild stages.
What is a foot elevator?
A foot elevator usually consists of a foam ring that raises the foot completely off the bed. It is mainly designed to prevent bedsores in the ankle and heel area. To prevent hyperextension, you can additionally place a pillow under the knee. In some situations, foot elevators can be replaced with other patient positioning aids like heel protective sleeves. Their pads can be made of polyurethane or gel and they reduce shock, vibration, and friction. This makes them suitable for preventing bedsores but also for aiding the healing process if sores have already occurred.
How do I properly elevate an injured or healing foot?
The most common positioning device for patients with an injured foot is a foot elevator that keeps your ankle at the level of your heart or slightly above it. By keeping your foot raised like that, the elevator helps decrease pain and swelling, speeding up the healing process. This is a common recommendation for fasciitis or after undergoing foot surgery.
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