Sheets with an Alternating Pressure or Low Air Mattress? (opinion)
We get asked this question often and we wanted to address it first hand. Can you use sheets on an alternating pressure mattress? This is often debated by wound care nurses and after much research we are sorry to say that there is not a clear answer. We can however educate you on why they may have that opinion. Our experience was some care takers got confused and may not have known the difference between a true low air loss blower and an alternating pressure mattress system.
The true low air loss blower is designed to wick away moisture from the skin. In this instance keeping the skin dry and using the special low sheer cover is critical in the treatment of decubitus ulcers. If a blower based low air mattress is being used to heal a bedsore, the answer would be using a sheet is not necessary. Why? This may add unnecessary layers to the mattress restricting the flow of air to the patient. If however the mattress was being used for prevention and basic healing it may not be as important.
The alternating pressure mattress uses a compressor pump. This system depends less on the low air loss therapy and more on the pressure relief of the mattress. The compressor pumps circulate air (low air output) under the cover to prevent heat buildup. This would place less emphasis on the direct airflow from the mattress and more emphasis on the alternating pressure cycles. The alternating pressure cycles allow for blood flow to reach the skin healing and preventing pressure ulcers. We have seen more home heath and nursing homes using sheets in these situations with an under pad for patients that may be incontinent.
Our research tells us sheets are not necessary with a true low air loss or blower based pump system. When using alternating pressure mattress systems it is up to the care taker or the policy of the care facility.
We have found a few companies that sells sheets and replacement covers for these types mattress systems .