These ulcers usually develop particularly over bony prominences, from prolonged pressure and or shearing. This affects the skin, underlying tissues and if not treated can affect the cells, muscle and bone, leading to death.
Pressure injuries are caused by the three main factors; constant pressure, friction and shear. In conjunction with this, there are many other factors that increase the risk of wounds and impact the skin integrity. These may include areas such as nutrition, microclimate, condition of the skin and soft tissue, and the unawareness of suitable pressure care equipment. This most commonly impacts people with reduced or limited mobility, or those who may be completely immobile.
The areas most susceptible to pressure ulcers include the occiput (back of the head), scapula (shoulder blades), vertebrae, elbows, sacrum, coccyx and heels. Pressure ulcers are very commonly seen on the heels, extending from the Achilles tendon around the plantar surface, covering the apex of the calcaneum bone. The heels are very prone to ulcers as there is little tissue and fat covering the bone. As pressure is on the heels for prolonged periods of time, there is a decrease in blood flow and oxygen circulation to that area. Ulcers on the heels can develop and worsen very rapidly, therefore it is important to prevent and treat them with urgency.
As Wounds International discusses, the increased care not only impacts the patient, but also costs the carers and facilities. Wounds International stated, “It has been estimated that pressure injury costs…AU $3.5 billion in Australia.”2 As a result, it is most important to take actions to prevent and treat the development of wounds, particularly in the earlier (preventative) stages, to significantly reduce these costs.
The US National Library of Medicine also discusses, the first signs of cell damage could arise within minutes.3 Studies by the US National Library of Medicine, have been undertaken to determine the development and treatment phases of pressure wounds. It was discovered that ideal pressure ulcer prevention is in the initial stage of the care process.4 This shows the importance of the initial preventative steps in the early stages of risk or development of a wound. The Oska Heel slope relieves pressure for clients at risk (as a preventative step), and those with pressure ulcers already developed on the heels.
Due to the shape, anatomy and perfusion of the heel, it can cause difficulties in preventing and treating pressure injuries in this area. According to Wounds International, “International guidelines suggest that in order to redistribute pressure from the heel, the heel should be floated from the bed.”
The Oska heel slope has been designed with exact dimensions at the most accurate degrees to prevent and treat heel injuries and mimic floating of the heel. Whilst distributing some weight through the calves, this helps to alleviate the pressure on the heels. This is important, as the calf is a larger surface area, with more underlying fat and tissue, meaning the risk of pressure ulcers is significantly lower than the heels.
The heel slope is suitable to help offload pressure for anyone who may be at risk, right through to someone with Stage 4 or Unstageable wounds. This slight decline at the heels provides ultimate relief in one of the most vulnerable areas of the body.