The term orthopaedic mattress is used a lot in the market but do we actually understand what that means so that we can make sure we are not being influenced to buy something relatively standard at a higher cost?
An orthopaedic mattress, as the names suggests is designed specifically to support the joints, back and body. Product development through the study of biomechanics claims that orthopaedic mattresses:
- Maximise support – through providing a firmer surface than that of a standard mattress.
- Distribute weight – to spread pressure across the body rather than just at main contact points.
- Correct spinal alignment – Although it could be argued that this is more about supporting a good sleeping posture to which a supportive mattress can contribute.
An orthopaedic mattress is a lot firmer than a standard mattress with additional support provided at the usual areas of ache, pain or deformity, namely the neck, shoulders, back and hips/pelvis.
What you may not know is that a pressure care mattress can do all of the above and more. A pressure care mattress may be more beneficial,especially if you will be spending more time in bed due to an illness, like those mentioned in the chart below. If you have a back condition or pain, you should really consider a specifically designed spinal mattress. Read more below to see if either of these mattresses would suit your needs better than an orthopaedic mattress.
Although a pressure care mattress performs a similar role in spreading out contact pressure across the whole body its primary focus is doing so to avoid skin damage rather than joint support. This means that elements of the mattress, including materials and structure of the internal support will be markedly different.
Pressure care mattresses are available in many types, depending on the vulnerability of the user to pressure or skin damage and depending on the specification may consider all aspects of skin care including moisture, heat, circulation, friction and sheer.
Choosing a pressure care mattress should not only be based on comfort but on a healthcare need. However, contrary to perception this does not mean that you have to have a typical nursing need to purchase a pressure care mattress. Due to the extensive range of products available, anyone paying attention to small risk factors right up to someone confined to bed with significant nursing needs, there is likely to be something for everyone.
|Can be used on normal beds?||Y||Y|
|Can be used on nursing beds?||N||Y|
|As opposite+ (not exhaustive)|
Active pressure damage
Spinal cord injury
High risk skin integrity
Despite the obvious differences between an Orthopedic mattress and a pressure care mattress as well as the perceived target audiences there are mattresses that aim to overlap these two styles, offering both skeletal support and pressure care.
A spinal mattress is designed purposely for those with spinal complaints or spinal injuries. A spinal mattress redistributes pressure whilst maximising comfort and supporting rehabilitation. The combination of comfort and firm surface provides excellent postural support whilst allowing the user to alter their position if they have the physical ability or have high risks of skin damage reduced if they are not. This group are more likely to have reduced sensation and therefore the ability of the mattress to support their healthcare and rehabilitation needs is even more critical.
Ultimately, whether considering an orthopaedic mattress or pressure care mattress the crucial starting point is to ensure that it will meet your unique needs. Healthcare professionals will always be able to offer sound objective advice if you need it.