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Alternating Pressure

What is an Alternating Pressure Mattress with Low Air Loss?

Alternating pressure mattresses are utilized in hospitals and at home to prevent and treat bedsores. For those with limited mobility, have an open wound, or are at high risk of skin breakdown, an alternating pressure mattress promotes healthy skin and wound healing. The 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, While one series of bladders are inflated and firm, the other series of bladders are deflated and soft. In 10-minute cycles the soft bladders become firm and the firm bladders become soft. 

what is alternating pressure

Relieving Pressure 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. 

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 built up. Alternating pressure provides timed cycles of gentle pressure and pressure release that force blood into the skin.

What is Low Air Loss Therapy?

Alternating pressure is most effective when combined with Low Air Loss therapy. These mattress systems are known as Alternating Pressure Low Air Loss Mattress Systems. Low Air Loss helps dissipate heat and moisture build-up between the body and bed creating a healthy micro-climate. In most Alternating Pressure Low Air Loss mattress systems, Low Air Loss is most often achieved through small lasered holes in the air bladders. This gentle stream of air flows dissipates heat and moisture. The latest advance is an enhanced Low Air Loss therapy that is built into the cover. This advance improves the effectiveness of low air loss as well as improving comfort.

How does an alternating pressure low air loss mattress help prevent and treat pressure sores?

There are 5 prime factors in the development of a pressure injury
High-quality alternating pressure low air loss mattresses address the five primary environmental factors that lead to the development of bedsores.

  1. Pressure = Alternating Pressure Therapy
  2. Heat = Low Air Loss Therapy
  3. Moisture = Low Air Loss Therapy
  4. Shearing = Highly specialized cover
  5. Friction = Highly specialized cover    

Are there Differences between Alternating Pressure Low Air Loss Mattresses? Which one do I choose?

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. Unfortunatelyeven most medical dealers and healthcare professionals don't understand the differences.

The correct mattress is the one that meets a person's medical, lifestyle, and financial needs.
Contact a wound care professional or product specialist who is knowledgeable about the differences between mattress systems. They can help match the mattress to the patient's needs.


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