How to Use Alternating Pressure Mattress?

Alternating Pressure Mattress

Damage to the skin and underlying tissues may occur as a consequence of persistent pressure on the skin, leading to pressure ulcers or bedsores. The majority of pressure ulcers occur on bony portions of the body, including the ankles, hips, and spine.

People who are unable to move freely are at increased risk of developing pressure ulcers, which may lead to bedsores when pressure builds up on an area of the body for an extended period of time.

It is possible to avoid pressure ulcers by taking measures like elevating the patient’s bed or offering support when they need to change positions. Here’s how to use an alternating pressure mattress.

What is an Alternating Pressure Mattress?

An alternating pressure mattress is a specialized type designed to provide relief and prevent the development of pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores.

These mattresses are commonly used in medical settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Still, they can also be used in home care settings.

The main feature of an alternating pressure mattress for bedsores is its ability to continuously change the pressure distribution on the body by alternately inflating and deflating cells or air pockets within the mattress.

This dynamic pressure redistribution helps to promote blood circulation and reduce the risk of pressure ulcers.

Benefits of Using an Alternating Pressure Mattress

Using an alternating pressure mattress offers several benefits for individuals at risk of developing pressure ulcers.

Firstly, it helps to relieve pressure on bony prominences, such as the heels, hips, and shoulders, which are particularly susceptible to developing bedsores.

This constant changing of the pressure distribution, an alternating pressure mattress reduces the amount of pressure on these areas, allowing them to receive adequate blood flow and oxygenation.

Secondly, an alternating pressure mattress helps to promote blood circulation throughout the body. The alternating inflation and deflation of the mattress cells create a pulsating effect that mimics the body’s natural movement.

This pulsation helps stimulate blood flow, preventing blood pooling in certain areas and improving tissue oxygenation.

The mattress also prevents moisture buildup. The design of these mattresses allows for air circulation, reducing the risk of excessive sweating and moisture accumulation. This is particularly important as moisture can contribute to developing pressure ulcers.

How Does an Alternating Pressure Mattress Work?

An alternating pressure mattress works by utilizing a system of air cells or pockets connected to an air pump. The air pump controls the inflation and deflation of the cells, creating a cyclical pattern of pressure redistribution.

The mattress is typically divided into multiple zones, each with its own set of cells. As the cells in one zone deflate, the cells in the neighboring zone inflate, creating a dynamic pressure relief system.

The air pump is usually equipped with adjustable settings, allowing users to customize the pressure levels and cycle times according to their needs.

Some advanced models may also include additional features, such as low-air-loss technology, which helps to maintain a cool and dry surface, and microclimate management, which controls the temperature and humidity around the body.

Alternating pressure mattresses come in two varieties: an overlay system and a complete replacement system. Patients may get alternate alleviation using overlay systems and thin pressure mattresses that can be layered on the surface of a current mattress.

When it comes to static mattresses, whole replacement systems are made to substitute for the whole thing. Pressure relief is often higher with complete replacement systems because of their deeper design.

Who Can Benefit from an Alternating Pressure Mattress?

An alternating pressure mattress can benefit a wide range of individuals who are at risk of developing pressure ulcers.

This includes elderly individuals who may have reduced mobility, individuals with medical conditions that limit their ability to move or change positions, and individuals who spend extended periods in bed or a wheelchair.

Individuals who have already developed pressure ulcers can also benefit from using an alternating pressure mattress, as it helps alleviate pressure and promote healing.

However, it should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional, who can assess the individual’s risk factors and recommend the appropriate settings for the mattress. You should regularly inspect the mattress for any signs of damage or malfunction and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and cleaning.

How to Use an Alternating Pressure Mattress Correctly

Using an alternating pressure mattress correctly is essential to maximize its benefits and ensure the safety and comfort of the user. Here are some guidelines to follow:

1. Set Up the Mattress

Start by placing the alternating pressure mattress on a stable and level surface, such as a bed frame or a hospital bed. Ensure the mattress is properly secured and does not slide or move during use. Connect the air pump to the mattress and plug it into a power source.

2. Adjust the Settings

Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the mattress’s appropriate pressure levels and cycle times. Adjust the alternating pressure mattress settings on the air pump accordingly.

Avoid excessive pressure, which can cause discomfort and increase the risk of skin breakdown due to alternating pressure mattress with pump.

3. Position the User

Assist the user in getting onto the mattress, ensuring they are positioned correctly in the center. Make sure that the user’s body is aligned and well-supported.

Do not place any additional pillows or cushions on the mattress, as this can interfere with the pressure redistribution.

4. Monitor and Maintain

Regularly monitor the user’s skin condition for any signs of redness or skin breakdown. If any issues are detected, adjust the settings or seek medical advice. Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning and maintenance guidelines to ensure the mattress’s longevity.


Pressure mattresses are an important component of the treatment plan for a client who suffers from bed sores. It is essential to have a solid grasp of the operation of a pressure mattress to choose a suitable form of mattress that will achieve the highest possible level of relaxation for the person.