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Choosing the Right Pressure Relief Device for the Heel

Jennifer A Gardner, PT, DPT, MHA, CWS

January 3, 2013

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Question

How do you decide which heel relief device to use for your patients?  What are the different options available?

Answer

A lot of times it comes down to what your facility already has.  All of the options are good - even a pillow is good when used appropriately.  We have the Prevalon system.  We like it because the outside is a parachute-like material, so there is very little friction and shear.  If the patient is moving their heel up and down in bed, it helps glide the heel along the sheet surface.  In my previous facility, I had the Heelift® Boot which is more of that egg crate material. That worked fine.  Then the Medline pillow works well, too, but I think that it is more expensive.  If your facility refuses to have any of these devices, then just make sure that there are enough pillows out there in your facility that adequate pressure relief can be supplied with a pillow.  A pillow positioned appropriately takes off just as much pressure as one of those heel relief devices. I will say that those heel bow pads , they are like heel protectors that you might in nursing homes, are not as good because they do not actually relieve the pressure.  They give a little more cushioning than the bed would, but they do not actually take pressure away.  The devices that I listed above actually completely suspend the heel whereas the heel bows do not.  


jennifer a gardner

Jennifer A Gardner, PT, DPT, MHA, CWS

Dr. Gardner has been a physical therapist for 15 years with the last 10 concentrated solely on wound care. She became a Certified Wound Specialist in 2001 and recently successfully passed her re-certification in October 2011. Currently, Dr. Gardner is employed at Underwood-Memorial Hospital as the Manager of Wound Care Services, supervising both inpatient wound care and the outpatient wound center. In addition, she has been adjunct professor at College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN for the last 7 years, teaching Integumentary to doctoral physical therapy students.  Dr. Gardner has presented both nationally and internationally on various wound care topics and continues to participate in research studies on new concepts in wound healing.


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