How does an alternating pressure mattress heal wounds?

An alternating pressure mattress is recommended by medical professionals to prevent and treat wounds. For those with limited mobility, have an open wound, or are at high risk of skin breakdown, an alternating pressure mattress promotes wound healing. The system relieves pressure and improves blood flow. Let’s take a closer look to learn more about how this therapy works.


Reducing Pressure and Improving Blood Flow Promotes Healthy Skin and Healing.

Blood flow is essential to healthy skin and healing. Reducing pressure between the body and the mattress prevents constriction of the veins allowing improved blood flow. Blood flow brings the essential nutrients the skin cells need to function. Without those nutrients, the skin cells die, and a wound forms. Improving blood flow promotes wound healing.


What is Alternating Pressure Mattress?

An Alternating Pressure Mattress is constructed of a series of air bladders the width of the mattress whose internal pressures "alternate" in timed cycles. The internal air pressures are controlled by an alternating pressure pump and set according to patient weight and comfort.

For simplicity, a Blue Chip Medical alternating pressure mattress has 18 air bladders. There are two sets of air bladders in a series, an odd series (bladders 1,3,5,7,9, etc) and an even series of (2,4,6,8, 10, etc). While the odd series bladders are inflated and firm, the even series bladders are deflated and soft. In 10-minute cycles the soft bladders become firm and the firm bladders become soft. This continually redistributes the pressure between the body and the mattress, improves blood flow, and prevents and treats bedsores and diabetic wounds.


A Little Pressure Improves Blood Flow

An alternating pressure mattress also improves blood flow to the skin by a process known as Reactive Hyperemia. The way to describe Reactive Hyperemia is to think of your blood vessels like a garden hose with running water. Pinch off the garden hose and the water stops flowing. When you release the hose, there is a big pulse of water from the hose due to the backpressure that has build up. Alternating pressure provides gentle pressure and timed pressure release that forces blood into the skin.


What is an Alternating Pressure Low Air Loss Mattress?

Low Air Loss is an essential therapeutic companion to alternating pressure in the fight against bed sores. These dual therapy mattresses are known as alternating pressure low air loss mattress systems and are used in hospitals and at home. Low Air Loss therapy helps to control the moisture and heat build-up that makes the skin prone to breakdown. Low Air Loss creates the perfect micro-climate for wound healing and healthy skin.


Are there Differences between Alternating Pressure Low Air Loss Mattresses?

There are many types of alternating pressure low air loss mattress systems. They vary greatly in how and when they should be used. There are significant differences in the quality of the mattress. These differences not only affect reliability but how effective the mattress is at prevention and healing.

To the consumer, the correct mattress to purchase is very confusing as these therapeutic support surfaces all fall under the banner of alternating pressure low air loss mattress systems. Unfortunately, even most medical dealers and healthcare professionals don't understand the differences. A wound care professional or product specialist is knowledgeable about the differences between mattress systems. They can help match the mattress to the patient's needs. 




jeff adise wound care product specialist 

Jeff Adise has been in the wound care industry for over 25 years. He is a product specialist and the developer of innovative therapeutic support surfaces for the treatment and healing of Stages I-IV pressure injuries in home recliners, lift chairs, wheelchairs, and beds. His innovative products are recommended for use by wound care specialists, physicians, caregivers, disease-related organizations for conditions such as ALS, across the US. In addition, Jeff is working with a team of Doctors and Ph.D. researchers to develop an Investigational New Drug shown to greatly improve the quality and speed of wound healing while reducing infection.

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