Working together to heal pressure ulcers

Julie Thurn-Favilla
Julie Thurn-Favilla

Most of us have seen or experienced pressure ulcers, which continue to be a problem for bed-bound patients around the country. Pressure ulcers are one of the five most common ailments experienced by patients, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. People who acquire pressure ulcers face an average increase of 5 extra days in the hospital, and 22% are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge. What if a new technology could prevent these ulcers and help them heal faster?

Minneapolis-based Tamarack Habilitation Technologies created GlideWear® to revolutionize the way pressure ulcers are treated and prevented. The goal is to dramatically reduce the friction and shear forces that contribute to these dangerous tissue injuries.

Tamarack collaborated with eldercare provider Augustana Care because both organizations want to improve the quality of life for older adults and those with disabilities. The collaboration resulted in a pilot program that showed ulcers improved for 90 patients.

Augustana Care and Tamarack are now launching a randomized, controlled clinical trial to compare GlideWear to other treatments. The study recently received approval to proceed from the Institutional Review Board, which oversees clinical studies to ensure they meet the standards for modern clinical practices and public safety. Tamarack CEO Joe Hofmeister and I both welcome the study as an opportunity to show GlideWear can be a game-changing effort in the war on pressure ulcers.

GlideWear products utilize a patented, dual-layer strategic friction management fabric technology. Friction is equal to 0.18, which is roughly the same as a car tire on slick ice at minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Products currently include shear protection wheelchair cushion and headrest covers, underwear, socks, and prosthetic liner patches.

Unlike other dual-layer products on the market, GlideWear strategically applies low-friction fabric technology only in at-risk areas, where skin breakdown has previously occurred or where individuals are likely to develop pressure ulcers and breakdown while using various seating, support surface, and mobility devices. Products intentionally avoid featuring low friction fabric properties in surrounding (non-risk areas) to optimize functional stability and comfort.

In addition to working on the study, Tamarack also participates in the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel Corporate Advisory Council to help ensure the company's products and educational initiatives are in line with industry standards. Recently, I was asked to represent Augustana Care on the panel, which was looking for a specific viewpoint from the skilled long-term care nursing field.

I feel greatly honored to be one of the few long-term care providers selected to join the panel, known for its innovative, influential approach in preventing and treating pressure-related injuries. Once the study is underway, researchers at Augustana Care will use GlideWear to treat or prevent ulcers around the heel, ankle, lower back and gluteus area.

My colleagues and I are very excited to have the ability to tap the expertise of a medical technology developer like Tamarack Habilitation Technologies. We hope to work on new projects with Tamarack in the future that will speed healing for the patients we serve.

Julie Thurn-Favilla, RN, BSN, is the Augustana Care Corporate Director of Skilled Nursing Facility Clinical Practice.  Tamarack Habilitation Technologies Inc. is a med-tech product development and manufacturing company in Minnesota specializing in ankle-foot biomechanics, wheelchair seating, and friction management technologies.

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