Wheelchair users often suffer from the problem of pressure sores. They are caused when the blood supply is cut off from a particular area of the skin. If the skin is under pressure because of continuous sitting on the wheelchair in one specific position, it results in such sores. It might result in severe consequences with respect to hygiene and health. How can a shower and commode wheelchair ease this problem for the mobility impaired? Read on to know.

Wheelchair users often go through a difficult time with respect to doing their daily activities independently. Apart from that, what worries them more is the development of pressure sores, also known as bedsores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers on their skin. Wheelchair users usually spend all their time awake, either on the bed or on their wheelchair. If the wheelchair seat isn’t comfortable or if their weight isn’t properly distributed on the wheelchair, the muscles and soft tissues might press against the uncomfortable surfaces. This would result in a cutoff of the blood supply to that specific region. When there is no blood supply, the skin tissue dies off and a pressure ulcer is formed. These sores are one of the most common ailments resulting from mobility issues.

Most vulnerable pressure ulcer locations in a wheelchair user

Since the skin layers are being squeezed, it can’t get adequate nourishment and the sores develop. This is commonly seen in the people over the age of 85. They have a higher risk of developing pressure ulcers since the skin usually becomes more delicate and fragile with age making it vulnerable to squeezing and blood flow cut off. However, the restriction of movement in younger people can also lead to pressure ulcers or sores. Bedridden patients can usually help avoid bedsores by lifting themselves off their bed sheets or rolling from side to side. These small movements throughout the day can let a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients get to the skin that is pressing against the bed. But, in case of complete absence of movement, patients can become more susceptible to the sores. These sores can also be caused by the friction between a person’s skin and a bed sheet or from extended skin contact with wetness on their wheelchair seat. The witness might be due to sweat or remains of urine and stool after being improperly cleaned. This causes the skin to stretch and can impair blood circulation in the skin. Pressure ulcers or sores are also more likely to develop in people who don’t get enough protein, vitamins and minerals.

Pressure sores on the heels

The sores are an unavoidable problem in wheelchair users, but uncomfortable and unhygienic wheelchairs make it additionally severe. The material used in the seat of the wheelchair, the quality of steel, the size and many such factors are responsible for making pressure ulcers or sores quite rampant in the wheelchair users. It is extremely important for users to select a comfortable wheelchair that solves the most important issue of cleanliness and is built with high-quality materials only. Such a wheelchair can greatly reduce the risk of such sores if not completely eliminate it.

A few things that can be done to avoid/ reduce the risk of pressure ulcers are as follows:

    1. The first and most important thing is to make sure that the wheelchair is a proper fit for the user. Doctors advise that the user should sit on a ‘padded soft cushion’ that fits the wheelchair properly.
    2. Regular inspection of the wheelchair is necessary. It is recommended to get its fit checked twice a year, in case the patient has undergone any changes in their size.
    3. Frequent re-positioning is a must. The user or the caregiver should shift the weight of the wheelchair user in the wheelchair every 15 – 20 minutes. Leaning forward and moving from side to side will increase blood flow and take pressure off of certain areas.
    4. While shifting to and from the wheelchair to the bed, it is extremely important to lift up the body with the arms and not drag the body. The caregiver should always make sure the user isn’t dragged. A doctor or physiotherapist must be consulted to learn about how transfers can be made easy.
    5. Harsh soaps, skin agents with alcohol and antibacterial or antimicrobial soaps should be avoided. Any kind of powders should be avoided. Only a moisturizer that has been approved by the healthcare provider can be used.
    6. It is also quite important to maintain a proper posture while sitting on a wheelchair. It should be relaxing and comfortable but should also provide enough support and blood supply to all the parts of the skin. Here are a few tips that should be followed while sitting on the wheelchair.
      It is important to maintain hygiene by bathing regularly with mild soap and warm water. After the bath, the skin should be rinsed and dried thoroughly. Particularly, the genital area and skin folds should be kept clean and dry. The clothes should be changed immediately in case of any leakage of urine or stool.
    7. Place the hips in the middle of the seat between the armrests
    8. Position the buttocks to the back of the chair – & avoid using a doughnut-shaped seat cushion.
    9. Using a small pillow between the back and the backrest can provide additional support.
    10. The pressure on the back of the thighs can be eased by resting the feet on the floor of the footrest.
    11. Another way to relieve pressure for wheelchair users is to re-position with the use of a reclining wheelchair.
    12. Natural sheepskin pads are also helpful to reduce pressure on the skin.
    13. Cushions are an utmost necessity while using a wheelchair as it helps to ease up the pressure. Various cushions are available, such as foam, gel (and the popular combination of both foam and gel) as well as water-filled.

With so many options to help reduce the risk of sores, the wheelchair users still have to compromise with respect to comfort and functionality of the wheelchair. Even if they do find a way out for using commode or bathing and maintaining hygiene, or take help of more than one caregiver while shifting, it still isn’t feasible when the users want to travel. There is a need for a comfortable and functional wheelchair that helps the users solve all their problems to some level. There is a need for a wheelchair which will not ask for compromises and adjustments to the user but provide complete assistance for whatever they need.

This problem has been addressed in Arcatron Mobility’s new model of wheelchair called Frido. It is made with a motive of solving all the problems that the wheelchair users face on a daily basis as well as when they travel. Frido is an ergonomically designed, user-inspired wheelchair which is an apt solution for reducing the occurrence of pressure sores. The features like padded soft seat cushions, high-grade materials, robust built and self-skinning foam can help prevent the sores.

The self-skinning foam adjusts according to the position of the user making sure that they are comfortable. The bones or skin aren’t pressed against the hard cushion seat. Thus, avoiding the blood flow cut off.

Frido can not only help the user be comfortable and relaxed on the soft cushion seats but it can also make transfers relatively easy for both the user and the caregiver as the height can be adjusted according to the bed and the commode. It is a shower and commode wheelchair that is built to last with rust-proof material and can help the user have a bath whilst sitting on this wheelchair. The seat cushion can be flipped according to the users’ need and also has the option of a commode pan that can be used in case of emergencies. Frido ensures that users can enjoy the simple pleasures of bathing or use a commode without much hassle. It can also help them be independent to do mundane things with little or no help from the caregiver.  The most important part, however, is that Frido can be packed into a bag and carried along during travels. With Frido, wheelchair users can now no longer be under the wrath of pressure sores and their unwanted risk. Wheelchair users can confidently use Frido without having to compromise on comfortability, functionality, portability and hygiene.