Possibly one of the most annoying tasks that come with paralysis is pressure relief. No matter how time consuming and hard it can be, there’s no getting around it; it simply must be done. If you don’t, you could get a pressure sore that could leave you bedridden for months.
Most of us unfortunately learn the hard way about how important pressure relief is. We end up with skin breakdown, and before we know it we’re on our sides in bed, staring at a laptop screen and binge watching some mediocre television show. It is a living hell to be sure.
This is why learning the pressure relief techniques that can be done in a wheelchair is hugely important no matter your level of injury. Read on for three different pressure relief techniques, each tailored for a specific SCI level.
Video #1: The Easiest Method of All – Tilt
If you are someone who has limited movement, then you will certainly appreciate our first video from Abraham Lukens, a C3 quadriplegic from La Porte, Texas paralyzed just last August while playing volleyball in the water (he dove to catch a ball, but the water was too shallow).
Since his injury, he’s been on the long and arduous learning curve us veteran SCIers know well, and he’s got pressure relief down pat; a very good place to start. Because of his level of injury, tilting back is the only way to go.
In his short video, he shows exactly how he tilts all the way back and rests there for 2 minutes, which it is something he must do every hour to maintain good skin. Watch his demo video
Video #2: The Fabulous Forward Lean
Our second video comes from SCI-Health.org, a website sponsored by the National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation Research. They’ve made dozens of videos showing how to be independent as a wheelchair-user, and in this video they show how to do pressure relief in a power wheelchair by leaning forward.
A technique that should only be attempted by those who know they can get themselves back upright, it shows how to lean forward onto your knees to achieve pressure relief around the buttocks and tailbone. This should be done for 30 seconds every 30 minutes.
It also shows a different way to do this that can feel great – leaning forward onto a piece of furniture, such as a countertop or table – to achieve the forward lean safely and to get a great back stretch while you’re at it. Watch how it’s done
Video #3: For Strong-Armed People Only
In our last video, also created by the National Institute on Disability, we get to see one of the most effective pressure relief techniques out there, but one that can only be done by people with full arm movement – The Pushup.
This technique has you either push up from your armrest or wheels to completely elevate your butt from the seat, and to hold the lift for either 30 seconds every 30 minutes or 15 seconds every 15 minutes; either works just fine.
And while doing this uber-strong lift, make sure to lock in your elbows so you don’t stress out your muscles. Watch the Pushup in action
No matter how hard it is or weird you look, always ALWAYS consider pressure relief your top priority. When your skin is healthy, everything else follows suit, and you will never have to think about how go keep your mind sane while on bed rest.
How do you prefer getting pressure relief?
Watch the videos!