If you’re confined to a bed or if you sit in a chair or wheelchair for long periods, you may be familiar with pressure ulcers. They are unfortunately common, but many are completely avoidable.
Let’s take a look at what exactly a contour pillow is and assess whether or not it’s a recommended solution to reduce pressure ulcers.
What Are Pressure Ulcers?
Also known as pressure sores, these are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue primarily caused by prolonged pressure on the affected area. Any part of the body that is under pressure (from the bed or chair) can sustain pressure sores, but you’ll usually find them on bones close to the skin, such as the heels, elbows, hips and base of the spine.
A contour pillow is designed using orthopaedic guidelines to correct your body position while you’re sitting down (for prolonged periods) or in bed. This is to ensure that specific parts of your body have the right placement to provide you with the necessary support.
What Are Contour Pillows Made From?
Contour pillows are traditionally made out of foam or fibre but can also be manufactured out of memory foam, a heat sensitive material that obtains the shape of the body lying upon it.
What Are the Different Types of Contour Pillows?
There are many types of contour pillows to suit almost every part of the body, each with their own purpose. Here are a few of the most popular.
A lumbar pillow is a light and portable pillow used to keep your seated position as comfortable as possible. It is ergonomically designed to improve a user’s posture or solve musculoskeletal conditions.
A neck pillow is mostly used by travellers to keep their necks straight while sleeping sitting up onboard a plane. It’s shaped like a horseshoe to snugly fit around the neck so that your head has a natural resting position.
A body pillow is an oversized pillow that moulds itself to your body to provide total support to your back. It can also eliminate pain at pressure points such as the knees or elbows.
This triangle-shaped pillow is placed at the top of the mattress to raise your head during sleep. This position is especially helpful to relieve the symptoms of acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
A cervical pillow has a curved design that adapts to head, neck and shoulder contour for back and side sleepers. These are used to relieve a stiff neck, frozen shoulder and headaches — and can also assist your breathing and reduce snoring and sleep apnoea symptoms.
Contour Leg (Knee) Pillow
This pillow is placed in between the legs to stabilise the pelvis and to restore the alignment of the back, hips and knees.
So, the answer is yes — contour pillows do work well to alleviate the pressure off your body, but which one is the best option to prevent pressure ulcers? Really it depends on where you develop sores. So, you can select the correct contour pillow type once you know which area of the body to target.
For example, if you tend to lay on your side, you can use a contour leg pillow to stop your ankles and knees touching each other. Or if you often develop pressure ulcers on your buttocks and thighs (particularly if you use a wheelchair), the lumbar pillow (or pressure relief cushion) is recommended.