Aims and Objectives
The aim of the “Get Wise” leaflet series is to provide simple and easy to understand information and tips to users, and their carers. In particular, the “Get Wise to Pressure Ulcer Prevention in Sitting” leaflet aims to provide simple tips on how to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers development, and what to look out for, while “Get Wise to Good Seated Posture” provides tips on supporting good posture.
Background, Techniques, Standards, Clinical Detail, Results and Testing
Achieving good-seated posture is vital for health and wellbeing. Freedom of movement, imperative for function, is achieved through effective stabilisation of the pelvis and trunk (Green & Nelham 1991[i]). Stability in sitting can reduce the influence of abnormal muscle tone and reflexes on the body, and ultimately manage comfort and energy levels (Cook & Hussey 2002[ii]). Asymmetrical postures, including spinal deformities, can even impact on physiological function. Without appropriate postural management, an individual is at risk of reduced independence, discomfort, and fatigue, and is at an increased risk of health complications. Ultimately, they are likely to experience limited quality of life.
Posture and pressure are inextricably linked. Body posture has a direct influence on the pressure going through specific body sites (Sprigle & Sonenblum 2011[iii]). The body can only withstand high interface pressures for a very short period of time, and it is when the pressure is not regularly redistributed that pressure ulcers can develop (Waterlow 2007[iv]). The impact of a pressure ulcer on a person’s quality of life is significant, with them being affected physically, psychologically, socially, emotionally, spiritually, and financially (Langemo 2005[v]). Pressure ulcers in older patients are associated with a fivefold increase in mortality (Grey & Harding 2006[vi]). The Health & Social Care Information Centre stated in their NHS Safety Thermometer (2015)[vii] report that, on average, 2,000 pressure ulcers are newly acquired each month within the NHS in England; the cost to the NHS of treating these pressure ulcers and related conditions is up to £4 billion a year (Royal College of Nursing & NHS England 2013)[viii].
Combine the above with the associated human suffering, there is a clear need to raise awareness of the importance of postural management and pressure care, and ultimately educate those it impacts.
The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has over 500 member companies manufacturing and/or selling healthcare and assistive technology products that help people live more independently, ultimately improving their quality of life. All member companies sign up to a Code of Practice (BHTA 2015)[ix], approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) demonstrating commitment to high standards that go beyond their legal obligations.
These leaflets are available as a resource from the BHTA Website. (www.bhta.com)
These leaflets have been put together by a group of representatives from the BHTA member organisations, specialising in clinical seating, posture and pressure care. Contributors have backgrounds in Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Ergonomics, Marketing and Sales, with many years combined clinical seating experience.
[i] Green EM & Nelham RL (1991) Development of sitting ability, assessment of children with a motor handicap and prescription of appropriate seating systems. Prosthetics and Orthotics International 15:203-216
[ii] Cook AM & Hussey SM (2002) Assistive Technologies Principles and Practice St Louis: Mosby
[iii] Sprigle S, Sonenblum S (2011) Assessing evidence supporting redistribution of pressure for pressure ulcer prevention: A review Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development 48(3):203-14
[v] Langemo DK (2005) Quality of Life and Pressure Ulcers: What is the Impact? Wounds 17(1)
[vi] Grey JE, Harding KG (2006) Pressure ulcers BMJ 332(7539):472–475
[vii] Health & Social Care Information Centre (2015) NHS Safety Thermometer: Patient Harms and Harm Free Care England April 2014-April 2015, official statistics Available from: http://digital.nhs.uk/catalogue/PUB17488
[viii] Royal College of Nursing, NHS England (2013) Pressure ulcers A guide to eliminating all avoidable grade 2, 3, and 4 pressure ulcers. RCN.Available from: http://nhs.stopthepressure.co.uk/docs/Pressure_ulcer_care_best_practice.pdf
[ix] BHTA (2015). The BHTA Code of Practice. BHTA. Available from: