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There is much evidence that tells us early ambulation strategies in the post-operative population are good; faster discharge times, more independence, lower frequency of urinary incontinence and infection etc. Unfortunately, post surgical patients spend over 2/3 of their time in hospital in bed, most of the time lying down.
For obese patients, sitting up in bed, though not as ideal as ambulating, is better than lying down. Respiratory wise, it is easier to monitor and suction them. It is easier to examine them while upright. They develop less sarcopenia and muscle atrophy. Lastly, patients sitting upright have higher forced vital capacity and total lung capacity due to gravity assisting diaphragmatic movement.
So why don’t we just raise the heads of their mechanical beds to 45 degrees? Health professionals do this, but patients often slide downwards on the bed and can’t reposition themselves independently. It often takes 3-4 medical professionals and a slide sheet to raise the patient up to a safe upright position.
Our idea is very simple. Just as a foot petal prevents a women’s foot from sliding down their high heel shoe, what if a similar pad could be place on the existing hospital bed to keep patients in an upright position during the day? There could be a corresponding attachment on a hospital gown that reinforced a patient’s bed positioning. Foot petals are made of Poron, a microcellular urethane that repels moisture, bacteria and odor and absorbs shock. These could replace the slide sheet at every patient bedside. If beds were to be redesigned within a hospital, a small dip in the buttocks region of the bed could prevent the ‘slide down’ phenomenon. In addition, bed railings that curve outwards with flexible restraints could accommodate a patient of increasing size.