Learning how to prevent ulcers

As a person who has had chronic progressive multiple sclerosis for 30 years, I have firsthand knowledge of the dangers […]

As a person who has had chronic progressive multiple sclerosis for 30 years, I have firsthand knowledge of the dangers of sitting too long in one spot. My experience led to stage four ulcers. It happened when my husband and I drove our truck to a Rainy Lake houseboat from Minneapolis. After a week of sitting in a standard wheelchair with no special cushion, we headed back home. (My power wheelchair with a commercial cushion did not fit on the boat.) A couple of weeks after returning home, I was in the hospital having surgery to debride three stage-four ulcers— one ischial, one sacral and one hip. I spent the next seven months either in the hospital having surgery or in bed being turned from side to side.

After “flap” surgery, a therapist suggested I purchase an air flotation cushion. She mapped my seating surface and showed me how to maintain the correctair level. The cushion never worked because every time I went over the smallest bump, I had spasms that caused me to shear forward and resulted in a blister. I was then out of positionfor the rest of the day.

A physical therapist at the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology referred me to the Assistive Technology group at Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare. Gillette’s staff made me a custom seat cushion. I wish someone had given me such a referral before I went on vacation! Now I’m going to buy a watch with an alarm and start relieving pressure regularly. I never want to go through ulcers again, especially if I can do something to prevent them.

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