Practice Related FAQs

The list of FAQs has been compiled in order to answer common questions that might arise during clinical practice and in markets where clinical evidence is scarce.

It is important to consider the holistic care of the patient/resident and use clinical judgement, making decisions based on the answers.

If you cannot find an answer to your question here, please contact with your question(s) and we will aim to provide an answer and post it/them on this website in order to help others moving forward.

Pressure relief, reduction, and redistribution

Q. What is the difference between pressure relief, pressure reduction, and pressure redistribution?
A. Pressure relief is the periodic removal of pressure to allow reperfusion of the capillary bed and prevent pressure injury development. The pressure relief allows bloodflow to return to normal and re-perfuse tissue that has been starved of blood due to pressure having been exerted on it. By changing position we naturally allow this to happen. Pressure relieving support surfaces actively encourage tissue perfusion by inflating and deflating alternative air cells over a 10 minute cycle, so pressure on any one part of the body in contact with the surface changes regularly. Pressure reduction is achieved by reducing contact pressure where the skin and mattress meet. This is done by increasing the surface area on which the patient is supported and contouring the mattress to the shape of the body. The patient/resident will still need to be repositioned on the surface, as even low pressures can occlude the capillary network, particularly in a high risk individual. Evidence to support both pressure relief and pressure reduction can be found in the Clinical evidence – Optimizing and measuring clinical outcomes brochure (Lit 444/04) and the Principles of alternating pressure brochure (Lit 932/01). Pressure redistribution is a blanket term for both types of pressure management as described above. Although the terminology looks interchangeable, it could have significant implications in some countries, for example in the US where it can be linked to different reimbursement codes.