See the pressure you are up against

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Kristen Thurman
Kristen Thurman

At least one pressure ulcer develops in more than 20% of long-term care residents who have lived in long-term care facilities for at least two years. Most pressure ulcers are considered a preventable event, and caregivers are expected to provide preventative care to ensure these ulcers do not develop. With Accountable Care Organizations and healthcare reform demanding a continuum of care approach, such preventive solutions are also a major economic driver.

In a cardiac unit, caregivers have heart rate monitors to see potential problems before they peak.  However, caregivers are expected to provide the same high level preventative care to skin without a visual monitor to see where high pressures exist beneath the patient and assess if their interventions are appropriate for that individual. According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel: Repositioning for the Prevention of Pressure Ulcers Guidelines, individuals should be repositioned in a way that pressure is relieved or redistributed to reduce the amount of pressure an individual is exposed to. This, however, has been a challenge to caregivers, in part because they have not had a technology that can assist them.

A new bedside tool is available to give them visual confirmation of where areas of high pressure exist under their residents while also providing patients with the instant biofeedback that helps self-repositioning, which is so critical to prevention and nurse support. The M.A.P from Wellsense is a bedside pressure-mapping device that displays a color-coded image of low (blue) to high (red) pressures in real-time.

Caregivers are now able to reposition patients using the visual image and assess the choice of support surface as well as all the preventative strategies that have been instituted for the individual. One licensed nurse has told us the mapping system takes away a lot of the worry because you can see if the positioning is correct.

The pressure mapping system provides an optional alert allowing the caregiver to set a reminder of when that individual's time to turn approaches. M.A.P. also has bed fall alerts, another major concern in many facilities.  In a busy caregiver's day, tracking what time each patient needs to be turned can be overwhelming and forgotten. The alerts remind the caregiver when to turn the resident.

Bedside pressure mapping allows caregivers to get the upper hand on reducing harmful pressure, a necessity in protecting residents.

Kristen Thurman, PT, CWS is the director of clinical services at Wellsense USA, Inc.  She can be reached at


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