Doctors sometimes recommend air-fluidized beds for patients with pressure ulcers. Air-fluidized beds are beds with up to two thousand pounds of glass beads, covered by a polyester sheet. The flow of warm, pressurized air circulating through the beads "fluidizes" the bed, and creates a unique support surface for the patient. In addition, the polyester sheet allows for moisture and air to pass through, which helps keep the skin dry and limits the skin breakdown caused by moisture and incontinence. Clinicians and patients should work toward minimizing incontinence as part of overall treatment for pressure ulcers.
Many studies prove that air-fluidized beds promote healing faster than conventional wound treatment. However, they are prohibitive both in cost and in feasibility. Air-fluidized beds are extremely costly, and are covered by Medicare only under certain circumstances. Besides the cost, air-fluidized beds are heavy—weighing up to two tons, depending on the bed. They are difficult to transport around hospitals, because of their weight, and for the same reason are also difficult to bring into a house or an apartment. In fact, many houses and apartments may not have the structural capacity to support the beds, due to their weight. Nonetheless, for some patients, air-fluidized beds are an important part of treatment. They may be effective for patients who have large pressure ulcers on multiple-turning surfaces, or for patients who fail to heal after a combination of traditional support surfaces, moist wound dressings, and turning regimens.
Last updated: 19-May-04