Caregiver and Patient FAQ

Below are answers to some of our frequently asked questions:

When should I ask my loved one’s doctor about ordering compression therapy?

A: Compression therapy is indicated in preventive situations, such as when bed rest is required for more than 3 days or if there is limb pain and tenderness. It can even provide pain relief if your loved one has a limb injury. Many doctors also recommend compression therapy before and after a surgery. And if you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility that is more sedentary, compression therapy can be beneficial to stimulate the venous system.

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What can I do to help a loved one prevent bedsores?

Bedsores can easily develop into pressure ulcers for a bedridden individual.

Pressure ulcers are primarily caused by:

  • Increased moisture buildup due to sustained pressure and perspiration
  • Variations in temperature that heighten skin sensitivity
  • Friction or shear
  • Immobility after an injury or illness that involves bed rest that can cause all of the above

Typically a long-term care facility or hospital will use a low air loss mattress. But these types of mattresses blow warm room air up through the mattress. The latest in technology is a Skin IQ™ Microclimate Manager waterproof mattress cover that pulls air down through the mattress, cools a person’s contact points, and pulls moisture away from their body and the top of the mattress. This coverlet creates a good healing environment that is 30 percent better than the average healthcare facility mattress cover.

The average daily cost for Skin IQ is $6 per day when used with an existing pressure redistribution mattress, in comparison to the daily cost of $30 for a Low Air Loss mattress. Skin IQ mattress covers are good for 30 days. Odor problems with patients having incontinence or excessive moisture are dramatically lessened with the Skin IQ. The product maintains a patient’s skin integrity and can help decrease the risk of pressure ulcers when used early on as part of the patient’s therapy.

The waterproof mattress cover contains these features:

  • All three layers impregnated with antimicrobial agents for superior infection control
  • A foam insert with Ultra-Fresh Freshness Protection
  • Material to lessen shear and friction
  • KCI’s Negative Airflow Technology to reduce moisture from the skin’s surface and reduce skin temperature while maintaining a patient’s comfort
  • Powerful odor control features
  • Flame retardant
  • Ability to be used by patients up to 500 pounds
  • Ability to be used immediately for CPR – no need to deflate
  • Easy to clean during 30-day recommended use

When a healthcare professional can proactively create a healing environment for a bed-ridden individual using the Skin IQ, they can prevent many of the serious events that can affect your loved one. If your loved one becomes immobile in his or her nursing home, even if it’s only expected to be for a few weeks, ask the nursing staff about Skin IQTM. Since it is very new, they may not know about it, so tell them about this web site. They will be happy to learn about this new technology.

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How does compression therapy work for lymphedema?

A: Lymphedema is a condition characterized by localized fluid retention and tissue swelling because of a blockage of the lymph vessels. The lymph vessels should drain fluid from tissues throughout the body and allow immune cells to travel where they are needed. Tissues with lymphedema are at risk of infection.

Extremity pump systems provide clinically proven and cost-effective mechanical compression therapy for lymphedema. The pump system stimulates circulation, promotes lymphatic flow in the proper direction, and reduces pain.

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How does compression therapy work for deep vein thrombosis?

A: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) happens when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside the body. Veins in the thigh, foot, and calf create a natural pumping system that helps flow blood back to the heart. But when an individual is immobile, blood circulation is decreased, and the risk of developing a blood clot goes up.

When a blood clot occurs, it can cause swelling and pain. External compression devices help stimulate the venous system and address the factors associated with clot formation. First, compression therapy helps increase the volume and velocity of flow from superficial veins up through the deep veins. This assists in decreasing venous stasis, blood pooling, and venous congestion. In addition, compression therapy helps decrease blood vessel distension and helps lower the risk of injury to the endothelium tissue. Finally, compression therapy enhances fibrinolysis, which assists in activating anti-clotting factors.

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What are some of the precautions to take for blood clots and venous stasis ulcers?

A: Here are some of the precautions individuals can take to lessen their risk of a blood clot:

  • Stay active and exercise regularly, even if walking is all that’s possible
  • Avoid staying sedentary for more than two to four hours
  • On bus, train, plane, and road trips point and flex the feet and make circles with your ankles to encourage blood circulation
  • Drink water and hydrate often
  • Avoid nicotine and caffeine

Speak to your doctor when you are at risk of blood clots due to:

  • Being overweight
  • Using birth control, hormone therapy, or giving birth
  • Surgery or other hospital procedures that merit the use of compression therapy or medicines
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, and cancer
  • Using cigarettes
  • Family history of blood clots

Here are some of the precautions individuals can take to lessen their risk of venous stasis ulcers:

  • Stay active and exercise regularly, even if walking is all that’s possible
  • Avoid long periods of staying sedentary or standing up
  • On bus, train, plane, and road trips point and flex the feet and make circles with your ankles to encourage blood circulation
  • Maintain proper hygiene and nutrition
  • Avoid nicotine and caffeine
  • Drink water and hydrate often

Speak to your doctor when you are at risk of venous stasis ulcers due to:

  • Being overweight
  • Prior leg injuries
  • Varicose veins
  • A history of deep vein thrombosis

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What are some of the risks that could lead to a blood clot?

A: The National Blood Clot Alliance is an informational resource for the latest patient education and professional training on blood clots and clotting disorders. The NBCA has a risk scale that can be very useful.

High Risk – Discuss with your doctor immediately
Hospital stay
Major surgery, i.e. abdominal/pelvic surgery or knee/hip replacement
Major trauma, i.e. car accident or fall
Living in a nursing home
Leg paralysis

Moderate Risk – Talk with your doctor about the risks
Over the age of 65
Plane, car, train, or bus trips more than 4 hours long
Active cancer with the use of chemotherapy
Bone fracture or cast
Birth control pills, patch, or ring
Hormone replacement therapy
Pregnancy or recent birth
Prior blood clot or family history of clot
Heart failure
Bed rest for more than three days
Obesity
Genetic/hereditary or acquired blood clotting disorder

Average Risk – be mindful of any changes and maintain a healthy lifestyle
Active lifestyle
Younger than 40 years old
No history of blood clots in immediate family
No conditions or illnesses that heighten clotting risk

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Tell me more about how doctors can help their patients from developing a blood clot.

A: Doctors can help their patients understand the warning signs and proactively take precautions as well as treat their patient with a “back to basics approach”. Sometimes the medicine cabinet full of high-power medicines might not be needed if a doctor can advise the patient to make some diet and lifestyle changes. Likewise, compression therapy works well in a “back to basics” approach because it can be used as a home therapy and does not cause any side effects.

Compression therapy is indicated in preventive situations, such as when bed rest is required for more than 3 days or if there is limb pain and tenderness. It can even provide pain relief if your loved one has a limb injury. Many doctors use compression therapy before, during, and after a surgery. Even plastic surgeons incorporate compression therapy before, during, and after liposuction and other large procedures.

And if you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility that is more sedentary, compression therapy is advised to stimulate the venous system. If you or your loved one begins to notice symptoms of a blood clot and believe your doctor may have been negligent in their efforts to prevent it, you have a legal right to get expert counsel regarding your medical concern. A doctor’s negligence or misdiagnosis can have devastating consequences when it comes to blood clots.

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What are some of the signs and symptoms of a blood clot?

A: The signs to look out for when a blood clot occurs:

  • Swelling, typically in one leg
  • Leg pain or tenderness
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg warm to touch
  • It can feel like you are having a “Charlie horse” but this pain is paired with all the symptoms mentioned above.

The signs that a blood clot has broken and is causing a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism:

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sharp or stabbing chest that can worsen with a deep breath
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus

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What are the different names for compression therapy products?

A: Just like soft drinks, in different parts of the country compression therapy is called different names but means the same thing. Depending on your location or medical professional’s preference, here is what compression therapy is called:

  • Compression booties
  • Lymphatic sleeves
  • Intermittent compression
  • Jobst pump
  • Venodyne boots
  • Lymphapress
  • Lymphedema pump
  • Vascular pump
  • Compression pump
  • Compression sleeves
  • Sequential Compression Device
  • SCD
  • SCUD boots
  • Pneumatic compression therapy
  • Mechanical compression therapy
  • Athrombic pump
  • Venous pump
  • Leg pump
  • Foot pump
  • Arm pump

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What is the difference between intermittent compression and sequential compression?

A:With intermittent compression, the leg or arm sleeve is a single chamber. The entire sleeve inflates and deflates intermittently. With sequential compression, the leg or arm sleeve has multiple chambers, usually 3 or 4, which inflate and deflate sequentially, distally to proximally. The choice of intermittent or sequential compression is up to the prescribing physician.

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What is the difference between lymphedema compression and vascular compression?

A:Lymphedema compression is characterized by a slow inflation/deflation cycle, designed to milk the lymphatic fluid out of the tissue of the arm or leg and into the circulatory system. Vascular compression, intended to prevent DVT, is characterized by a rapid, pulsatile inflation/deflation cycle which forces the blood up through the deep veins of the legs, supporting circulation to prevent the formation of a clot.