Patients who spend more than eight hours a day in a wheelchair have a far lower incidence of pressure ulcers when it is equipped with a single-compartment or multi-compartment air cushion using telescopic cells.

Two observational studies by French researchers followed such high-risk patients for 35 days at a time, tracking the development of wounds as well as patient satisfaction with comfort and the opinion of their caregivers.

The research included 152 patients, most of them with spinal cord injuries and a Braden score equal to or less than 16. None had pressure ulcers at the study’s onset.

On average, the patients using single-compartment cushions spent 10.2 hours a day sitting, while those on multi-compartment cushions sat about 9.1 hours daily. 

Over 35 days, 2.6% of patients in the single-compartment group developed an ulcer.  Four percent of those on multi-compartment cushions developed one.

Previous studies have estimated the incidence of pressure ulcers at 25% to 66% among individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Findings ran in September’s  Journal of Wound Care