A therapy mattress or support surface provides a lot more than a good night’s sleep.

It can impact on the likelihood of pressure injuries developing, control the level of moisture on the skin, minimise or maximise movement, alleviate pain, and affect a person’s independence and ability to carry out daily self-care tasks.

There are dozens of different mattresses available in New Zealand and occupational therapists must routinely decide which is the best option for their clients.

Clients may have a personal preference regarding foam or air mattresses. However, it’s important to consider the following aspects:

  • Body shape (weight, height, morphology)
  • Tone, contractures or spasm
  • Bed mobility and transfers
  • Sensation
  • Continence
  • Home environment and social environment

If pressure injuries are a concern or high risk, then a powered alternating air mattress is a great option. An air pump will regularly inflate and deflate alternating cells of air inside the mattress to offload pressure and help wounds to heal. If your client has other open wounds such as skin grafts, this is also a good choice.

It’s always good to consider your client’s Waterlow or Braden score to determine their risk of developing pressure injuries. This will help in your justification in the funding application process and steer you in the right direction when choosing a mattress.

For orthopedic patients who have metal accessories attached to them, a high spec foam mattress is likely to be more appropriate than an air mattress.

Choosing the right mattress for your client may also depend on how their care is being managed. Are they turned regularly? Do they have professional carers or are they being looked after by loved ones? Also, how heavy are they? Is their weight evenly distributed or concentrated in one area of their body? Is shear or friction likely to be an issue when they move?

Your client’s individual micro-climate is another factor to add into the mix. A person’s age, weight, medication, continence and physical environment can all lead to excessive sweating and moisture on the skin. Different mattresses provide different levels of ventilation so think about what level of air flow is required.

Mattresses come with a waterproof, breathable cover. To experience the full benefits these innovative mattresses offer, we recommend covering them with a loose sheet only and avoid adding electric blankets and other layers.
Of course comfort and the need to alleviate pain are both vital considerations. Some mattresses offer more immersion than others. This allows bony prominences to ‘sink’ into the surface. While other mattresses will ‘push back’ against a person’s body weight, offering greater support.

The technology contained inside the range of mattresses available today (including different foam layers, densities, physical construction and internal ventilation systems) impact how it actually feels when lying on it.

So until your client lies on a mattress, you won’t really know for sure whether you’ve made the right choice. That’s why Cubro offers a 14 day mattress trial to all occupational therapists so you have time to assess whether the mattress is meeting the expected outcomes for them.

Metzeler’s range of high specification foam mattresses are made in Germany, they are renowned for outstanding pressure redistribution, pressure relief, pain relief and patient comfort. Six different models are available, including their latest release – the Elmundo Plus – which is now available through Cubro.