Pressure ulcers occur as a result of tissue being exposed to sustained, unrelieved pressure or pressure associated with shear. They may be superficial injuries affecting the skin or they can extend into the subcutaneous tissues and involve muscle, tendon and bone.

Pressure ulcers typically occur over bony prominences with the lower trunk such as the sacrum or coccyx, and heels being the two most common locations for these wounds.

Although ulcers are typically accepted as being a preventable, up to one in five acute care patients presents with a pressure ulcer and the cost of pressure ulcers on healthcare budgets at a national level runs into billions of pounds.

The biggest risk factor for pressure ulcer development is immobility. In simplistic terms, the majority of patients are unlikely to develop pressure ulcers if they are mobile.

The use of active (alternating) and reactive (constant lower pressure) support surfaces such as specialised mattresses and cushions can help manage the pressure applied to the patient and depending upon the individual needs of the patient these support surfaces can help reduce the frequent requirement for manual repositioning.
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