Academics to raise awareness about dangers of pressure ulcers

COMMUTERS are being asked to take a seat – to raise awareness about the dangers of a condition which affects hundreds of thousands every year.

Academics from the University of Salford will be inviting members of the public traveling through Manchester Piccadilly train station to sit on a specialist chair they will set up on the concourse to demonstrate the importance of new research they have carried out into how to avoid pressure ulcers.

The academics will use special equipment to see how people’s seating position is putting pressure on certain areas of the skin – and will provide advice about to the public about how they could sit differently or make adjustments.

Adult nursing lecturer Melanie Stephens and occupational therapy lecturer Carol Bartley have carried out research into pressure ulcers, or bedsores, which are often caused when people with limited mobility – such as wheelchair users – remain in the same seating position for long periods of time.

Although they are treatable if detected early, these ulcers can lead to serious infections and other problems.

They affect 700,000 people each year, costing the NHS £3.8m every day, but although the cost of managing pressure ulcers in hospitals and care homes has increased significantly over the last few years there is very little official advice from health and social care organizations about how to avoid them.

The two academics recently worked with the Tissue Viability Society to develop a practical guide for patients, carers and healthcare professionals about the best ways to sit to avoid this problem, based on research they have carried out with users.

These include making sure people get the right chair or wheelchair, make sure they change position regularly and that areas of the skin at risk of developing the ulcers are inspected every day.

Melanie Stephens said:

Pressure ulcers are a huge concern for hundreds of thousands of people every year, and can affect anyone who spends a long time sitting in the same position. They are 95 percent avoidable, but there has until now been a lack of robust clinical research about how to handle them.

We hope this event will help raise awareness of the problem among the general public – and maybe some of the people who try out our specialist equipment will have a loved one at risk of being affected and will be able to benefit from some of our advice.

They will be based in Piccadilly Station from 12-5pm on Saturday November 4 as part of the Economic And Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science.

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