Bedsores, also known as pressure ulcers, happen when a person is bedridden for an extended period of time because they are unable to relieve pressure on certain body parts. Depending on how much pressure is on the skin, bedsores can be anywhere from mild to deadly. What makes pressure ulcers most dangerous, though, is that if your loved one with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is unconscious or unable to sense pain, the sores could go unnoticed and get worse.
When your loved one suffers from a TBI, providing care becomes your top priority. TBIs are dangerous and complicated, so they require more considerations when it comes to how to care for the patient. If the injury has left your loved one with limited mobility or loss of feeling, and you’re taking care of them at home, then bedsores could be a real problem you’ll face.
In fact, an article published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that TBI patients are at a high risk for developing bedsores because of things like metabolic changes, immobility, loss of bladder and bowel control, nutritional challenges, and the inability to care for themselves independently. Another article cited that the most significant factors in TBI patients that caused pressure ulcers were delayed feeding and falls in hemoglobin.
As a TBI patient’s at-home caretaker, you’ll need to know how to prevent bedsores so that they can remain in good health.
How to Prevent Bedsores
Pressure ulcers vary in severity, which are called stages. Stage 1 is the least severe and stage 4 can be catastrophic. In order to keep the patient’s skin intact and healthy even though they’re unable to move a lot, you’ll need to follow these preventative steps, as recommended by Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Reposition the patient every 2 hours
- When sitting in a wheelchair, sit the patient upright and reposition every 15 minutes
- Reduce pressure by using soft padding in wheelchairs, beds, and seats
- Keep skin clean and dry
- Ensure they are eating properly, and you are fulfilling their nutritional needs
- Examine skin for sores regularly if the patient is unconscious or unable to feel pain
- Monitor hemoglobin levels
Even if you’re doing your best to prevent bedsores on your loved one with a TBI, they still might develop one. In that case, you’ll need to know how to treat the pressure ulcer so that it does not get worse and become a danger to their health.
How to Treat Bedsores
Here are some actions you can take at home if your bedridden loved one with a TBI develops a pressure sore:
- Remove the pressure
- Clean the wound
- Remove any infected or dead tissue
- Cover the wound with medicated gauze
- Keep providing proper nutrition
Since you can’t prescribe antibiotics or perform surgery on your loved one, if the sore is bad enough, you should take them to their doctor immediately. Sores can become deadly, especially if there is infection or dead tissue within the wound. You’ll know there is infection if your loved one has a fever or if the sore is draining, smells bad, or is swollen. Even worse, you’ll know there is dead tissue if any black tissue is present.
In stage 3 and 4 ulcers, you’ll probably be able to see muscle, ligaments, or even down to bones. This means the bedsore is severe and should be treated by a professional immediately.
Wishart Brain & Spine Law Can Help
Traumatic brain injuries not only affect a person’s physical and mental health, but they also affect their whole families. When an accident you didn’t cause leaves you or a loved one with a TBI, you’ll need an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process of filing a claim. At Wishart Brain & Spine Law, we are dedicated to getting you the compensation you deserve for your injuries and making the process as easy as possible for you. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.