Posted June 7, 2021
  • | Continuum of Care
  • | Support Surfaces
  • | Wound Care Technology

Non-Powered Reactive Air Support Surfaces: Simple Solutions for Complex Problems

Look for reactive air surfaces that promote good immersion, patient envelopment and proper flotation. 

Quite simply, a reactive support surface can change its load distribution properties only in response to an applied load. Pressure is redistributed based on body movements, so patients are literally floating on pockets of air. They can be powered, but they don’t have to be. In modern hospital settings, a ‘cordless solution’ is an endearing quality, particularly when patients are on the move.

Ready when you are
People at risk for pressure injuries don’t tend to lose that status when travelling between hospital departments. Their skin integrity remains a concern. Prevention measures set in place need to be versatile enough to move with the patients from entry to exit. Gaps in care can potentially lead to problems down the road. Reactive air support surfaces NOT dependent on power supplies can comfortably and effectively remain under patients and protect them along the way.

Cool under pressure
Microclimate management is a key step in preventing pressure injuries. When an increase in body temperature of only 1°C can raise the metabolic demand by 10%, beating the heat is a must. Beds designed to release small amounts of air are options, but is air the only thing that is circulating? Choosing a non-powered support surface may be wise, but choosing one with built in venting holes to assist with heat dissipation is genius. Pressure injury prevention doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to work.

Do a good turn
Turning and repositioning is a necessary part of most pressure injury prevention care plans, but it’s not always the easiest task to complete. Along with all the concern given to the patient, there is a chance of injuring the caregivers along the way. Fortunately, some non-powered reactive air support surfaces also moonlight as turning and transferring devices. Patients enjoy smooth turns while their skin remains protected. And caregivers appreciate not getting hurt in the process.

Protection at all costs
Reactive air support surfaces come in all shapes and sizes, and choosing the right one for each patient isn’t always easy. Investing in expensive beds is an option, but big price tags don’t necessarily ensure quality. Pressure mapping is a nifty tool to objectively validate the effectiveness of a bed surface. But if mapping systems aren’t available, trusting science is your best alternative. Look for reactive air surfaces that promote good immersion, patient envelopment, and proper flotation.

At the end of the shift, no surface will ever take the place of good nursing care, but it will certainly compliment it. Choose a reactive air support surface versatile enough to remain steadfast to the patient’s care plan from entry to discharge. Pressure injury prevention solutions with hidden talents! 

European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel and Pan Pacific Pressure Injury Alliance. Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers/Injuries: Clinical Practice Guideline. The International Guideline. Emily Haesler (Ed.). EPUAP/NPIAP/PPPIA; 2019

Du Bois, E. F. (1921). The basal metabolism in fever. Jama77(5), 352-357.