Take this to the bank

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It won’t surprise complex rehab providers that skin protecting wheelchair cushions help reduce the development of pressure ulcers. That’s the conclusion of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, who recently published the results of their study of 180 nursing home residents using skin protecting cushions vs. segmented foam cushions in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.

But what about referral sources? What about payers? Providers can tell these people, until they’re blue in the face, that skin protecting cushions do a better job of reducing pressure ulcers than foam cushions, but unless they have the outcomes data to prove it, it goes in one ear and out the other, said Mark Schmeler, a professor in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation.

Now providers have that data. The researchers found that after six months, only 0.9% of the nursing home residents who were using skin protecting cushions developed ulcers near the bony prominences of the pelvis known as the ischial tuberosities (IT). That’s compared to 6.7% who were using foam cushions.

“I think people in the industry will love to see this, because they don’t read the journals, and they need to know that this data is out there,” Schmeler said.

Researchers conducted the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), at 12 nursing homes in the Pittsburgh area from 2004 to 2008.