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Pressure Ulcer: An Overview

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What is pressure ulcer?
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Everybody knew the actor Christopher Reeve. Before Brandon Routh, he was the original Superman on the big screen. Did you know that he died from a complication of pressure ulcer?
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Now back to the question. What is pressure ulcer or otherwise known in layman’s term as pressure sore or bed sore? If you look at the two words separately and translate them as is, you will have a general idea of what the condition is all about.
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Pressure ulcer or pressure sore is a lesion or a defined change in a specific area where pressure is applied for a long period of time. This is common to persons who are paraplegic (both lower extremities are paralyzed) or quadriplegic (both upper and lower extremities are paralyzed). Although, the occurrence of pressure ulcer is not only limited to these two conditions.
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The general concept here is that when a person’s situation does not permit him to be mobile then most likely, pressure ulcer will occur.
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How does this happen?
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Did you notice that when you cross your legs for a long period of time you will see redness in the area where both your knees come in contact? That redness that you see is due to the fact that blood flow in that area was disrupted.
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Blood circulation is very important because it carries and distributes oxygen and other nutrients to different parts of the body. It is like a waitress delivering food to every person inside the restaurant to relieve their hunger.
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Now, imagine when a person is immobile. That person just stays in one position (most likely lying in bed) and is incapable of moving for a very long period of time. Pressure is always applied (between the body and the bed). Like the example above, when there is pressure, there is disruption of blood flow. Redness starts to appear on certain areas. Areas where there are bony prominences since there is more pressure applied in that area.
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If this situation continuous, blood will not be supplied in that area. If blood is not supplied, the body’s cells become hungry. What is worse is that they die.
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You have to remember that the cells make up the tissues and the tissues make up the muscles in your body. With pressure ulcer, there is skin disintegration(early stages) and worse muscle disintegration (later stages).
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It is easy to not notice these early manifestations of pressure ulcers especially if the immobile person is not moved. But you have to keep in mind that it is difficult to regain what was lost. Make it a practice to move the bedridden person especially if you are the one caring for that person. Moving the person to a different position every two to four hours is ideal to relieve the pressure. The key to combating pressure ulcer is prevention.
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