30-degree tilt best for blood flow: study

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Different body positions change residents' tissue blood flow and may relate to how wounds heal, according to new research. The optimal position might be a 30° supine tilt.

Repositioning is considered a crucial part of preventing pressure ulcers, but Swedish researchers conducted a year-long study to evaluate interface pressure, skin temperature and blood flow when residents were at different angles. Researchers led by Ulrika Källman of Linköping University observed 25 residents for an hour at a time. Results were in Biological Research for Nursing.

Investigators found interface pressure was much higher for the 0° supine and 90° lateral positions than in 30° supine tilt and 30° lateral positions. Blood flow was significantly higher in the 30° supine tilt position when compared to the other positions.

Interface pressure occurs at the junction between the skin and a support surface, but it does not tell what's going on with underlying tissue. Källman told McKnight's, the “thirty-degree supine tilt position seems to be, according to our research, a good position to use for immobile patients. However, to change position regularly is the most important preventive measurement.”