Does The BackBone™ really work?
I get this question all the time: “Gwen: Do you have evidence that The BackBone™ turning wedge prevents pressure ulcers?”
My short answer is: Of course it does. The BackBone™ is the best 30 degree lateral support device available. It is better than what you are using now in every way. Believe me, I would not be doing this if I did not have evidence that The BackBone™ is effective. I am not just another salesperson trying to sell you just another gadget. I am a nurse trying to solve a problem.
But I have to tell you, asking if The BackBone™ prevents pressure ulcers is not the right question. I would never imply that The BackBone™ is the “cure” for pressure injuries. If that is what your other support device company said to you, don’t fall for it!
What the BackBone™ does is solve the problem of getting good pressure reduction. When it comes to preventing and treating pressure ulcers; Its good, long lasting pressure reduction that is the most important problem to solve. Always.
You may not have always do everything, but you always have to turn.
Do not be fooled by studies that “prove” a certain kind of positioning device is responsible for lower pressure ulcer rates. They are biased studies that start their experiment by increasing the turn frequency and making sure that everybody turns exactly according to the study protocol.
How much pressure is reduced, where the pressure is distributed to, how long the positioner holds the turned position, how comfortable, correctly and safely the patient is positioned is never measured in those studies. The only thing that makes them work is the frequent turning that is consistently taking the pressure off. If you turn often enough, supporting with a big rock will accomplish the same results. Just don’t look at the skin under the rock!
How often we should turn a high risk person is still up for debate. For all the carefully well designed studies set out to discover the answer to this question, the only conclusive answers are about why we should NOT turn every two hours. Its an unrealistic, unsustainable and unsubstantiated frequency both in terms of staff safety and optimal patient care.
My professional opinion is, we will not be able to answer the optimal turn frequency question until we measure the turn itself; How can know what the optimal turn frequency is until we know how much pressure reduction are we achieving? For how long? Was the patient supported in a stable and comfort 30 degree position or did she shift back to supine soon after the positioning was done?
In the mean time, I am not going to lie. The BackBone™ is not the magic bullet answer to all your pressure injury prevention woes. BUT, it does work. I have the data to prove is the best at reducing pressure and maintaining a stable support a comfortable position.
If you want to reduce pressure injury incidence at your facility, start with a cushion that honestly reduces pressure.
Gwen Jewell, Clinical II RN, BSN, CWS
Medical Cushions for pressure injury prevention