We spend a lot of our lives in bed - particularly when we are unwell. If your bed is uncomfortable when you’re feeling great, it’s an annoyance. But if your bed is providing you with an unsuitable amount of support when you’re ill or healing… it can seriously hinder your recovery!
Particularly if you, or someone you’re taking care of, have restricted mobility and lie in bed for upwards of 15 hours a day, the wrong kind of bed can increase the risk of developing pressure sores. That’s certainly not what the doctor ordered!
In such cases, a medical air mattress might be the best option for protecting you against secondary infections such as pressure ulcers.
We created this quick guide to help you choose the right air mattress for your needs.
Why use an air mattress?
When our bodies are largely immobile for long periods of time, our skin cells can break down and form painful sores that can convert into ulcers. Air mattresses help avoid skin breakdown by promoting blood flow and stimulating circulation in the body.
Air mattresses alternate the body’s positioning regularly so that the pressure doesn’t build up too much on parts of the body that are prone to pressure sores such as the buttocks, elbows, back, and hips.
The air-filled sacs within the mattress not only help protect against pressure sores, but they allow the body to move comfortably while feeling like they are floating on air. This promotes a good night’s sleep, which is a very important factor for our health.
Types of air mattresses
The main types of air mattresses to consider are:
Foam mattresses are made of single or multi-layer memory foam that contours to the body to redistribute pressure and promote comfort.
Their surface remains static, which means the patient’s weight is evenly distributed over a large surface at a continuous low pressure. That being said, memory foam does respond to a patient’s body shape, weight and level of movement.
Additional pressure relief devices can be used with foam mattresses such as foam wedges to help patients maintain comfort and also allow for easier patient handling.
It’s important to note that foam mattresses are intended more for the prevention of pressure sores rather than the treatment of them. Patients still must be repositioned by their carer regularly, otherwise sores can still develop.
Alternating air flow mattresses
Air flow mattresses relieve and redistribute pressure through a dynamic surface rather than a static one seen in foam mattresses. The mattresses include a row of lateral air cells that constantly alternate their level of air fullness. The air flow is controlled by a pump unit that is connected to the mattress. The unit is fairly non-obtrusive, emitting a small amount of noise. It usually sits at the foot of the bed.
As the cells gently inflate, they provide support to the patient’s body. As they deflate, they provide relief for the skin above them. This constant cycling of support and relief means there’s movement in the skin. This encourages blood flow to the skin, which is important for maintaining healthy tissue.
Air pressure mattresses are used for the treatment of developed pressure sores, as well as the prevention of them. A big benefit of air mattresses is that they do not require a carer to reposition the patient - the alternating air pump does that automatically.
Hybrid air mattresses
By combining the benefits of a foam mattress and air mattress into one mattress, a hybrid mattress can provide excellent pressure care that’s easily tailored to suit most patient needs.
Hybrid mattresses feature layers of foam interiors which promote comfort and pressure distribution, as well as an active static support surface that helps keep blood flowing to the skin.
The majority of hybrid pressure mattresses still require a pump for their alternating air pockets, so there’s still the need for mains power. These types of air mattresses are designed especially for patients at high risk of developing sores.
Where to get an air pressure mattress
At Keystone Healthcare, we carry a wide range of foam, air, and hybrid pressure mattresses. Our range includes bariatric, acute care, and high-risk patient options to suit every facility’s needs.
Our air mattress range is available for purchase or rental. We also offer free delivery and pick-up, as well as a hospital-grade cleaning service.
To discuss the right air mattress for your needs, get in touch with the friendly Keystone team on 1300 547 877. Our team are all experienced healthcare professionals who can help match the right solution for you.