This is the kind of stuff you can take to the bank


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 referral sources and payers, 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.

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 had developed ulcers near the bony prominences of the pelvis know as the ischial tuberosities (IT). That's compared to 6.7% who were using foam cushions. What's more: A secondary analysis found that only 10.6% of residents using skin protecting cushions developed combined IT and sacral ulcers compared to 17.6% of residents using foam cushions.

"I think people in the industry will love to see this," said Mark Schmeler, an investigator of the study and a professor in the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation. "We're going to put a press release together when we get research like this, because people in the industry don’t read the journals, and they need to know that this data is out there."

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.

Keep an eye out for more data from these researchers: They have been awarded another NIH grant to study the impact that a properly fitted manual wheelchair vs. a standard wheelchair has on pressure ulcer development.

Liz Beaulieu


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