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J Tissue Viability. 2011 Feb;20(1):30-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jtv.2010.04.001. Epub 2010 May 26.

Pressure relief, cold foam or static air? A single center, prospective, controlled randomized clinical trial in a Dutch nursing home.

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  • 1Avoord Zorg & Wonen, Etten-Leur, Netherlands. martin_van_leen@zonnet.nl



At present, the evidence regarding the type of mattress that is the best for preventing pressure ulcers is not convincing. In a single center, prospective, controlled trial we compared a static air overlay mattress (no electric pump needed) on top of a cold foam mattress with a cold foam mattress alone on pressure ulcer incidence in nursing home residents.


83 Patients were included in the study with a score lower than 12 points on the Norton scale and no pressure ulcer at the start of the study. 42 Patients received a cold foam mattress and 41 patients received a static air overlay on top of that cold foam mattress. Out of bed we standardized the pressure reduction in sitting position by using a static air cushion in both groups. Patients were checked weekly in both groups for pressure ulcers. Only when there were signs of developing a pressure ulcer grade 2 or higher, repositioning by our nursing home pressure ulcer protocol (PU protocol) was put into practice.


Seven patients (17.1%) on a cold foam mattress and two (4.8%) on a static air mattress developed a pressure ulcer grade 2 or more. There was no difference regarding pressure ulcer incidence between patients with a high risk (Norton 5-8) and patients with a medium risk (Norton 9-12). In 5 out of 7 patients who developed a pressure ulcer on a foam mattress the ulcers showed no healing using our PU protocol. In the static air group all pressure ulcers healed by regular treatment according to our PU protocol.


In this study, static air overlay mattresses provided a better prevention than cold foam mattresses alone (4.8% versus 17.1%). The Norton scores of the patients in both groups did not change during the 6 month trial period. Our decision to use repositioning only when there were signs of a pressure ulcer seems to be acceptable when a static air overlay is in position. However, the score of 17.1% development (incidence) of pressure ulcers in the foam group may stress the need of repositioning when using only this type of mattress.

Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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