Pressure ulcers 'not entirely preventable'

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Seniors' lack of protective skin proteins makes pressure ulcer prevention difficult, according to new research. 

A team from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine developed a first-of-its-kind mechanical pressure model to test skin samples from younger people (ages 29-35) and older people (ages 54-60). When subjected to pressure, the younger skin produced protective inflammasome proteins, the researchers found. The proteins were still present at elevated levels after four hours of continuous static pressure. The older skin had lower levels of inflammasome, which did not increase under pressure, leading to significant tissue breakdown within two hours.  

Results “demonstrate that load/pressure triggers specific tissue response in skin, morphological changes and rapid inflammatory response that may not be entirely preventable,'' the researchers wrote.

The findings should not discourage caregivers from continuing with robust pressure ulcer prevention programs, the researchers said. They should focus on acting quickly at the earliest signs of a pressure ulcer. 

Full findings appear in PLOS One.