Pressure sores as a secondary condition in people with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are a significant concern and require effort and awareness for their prevention. Pressure sores occur when an area of skin or underlying tissue is dead or dying as a result of the loss of blood flow to the area (Garber & Dyerly, 1991). Also known as pressure ulcers, decubitous ulcers, ischemic ulcers, bedsores, skin breakdown, or skin sores, pressure sores occur in up to 80% of individuals with SCI, and of those individuals, 30% have more than one pressure sore (Klebine, Lindsey, & Oberheu, 2000). Pressure sores also may increase both disability and handicap in people with SCI (Krause, Vines, Farley, Sniezek, & Coker, 2001).
Treatment for pressure sores ranges from extended bed rest to surgery, resulting in significantly limited participation in work, self-care, and leisure activities. In 1991, the estimated cost to treat one pressure sore could be as high as $70,000, depending on its severity and the type of treatment. Most importantly, pressure sores are preventable for people with SCI (Park, 1992).
Health promotion, which for people with SCI should include exercise, fitness, nutrition, health behaviors, and stress management, plays a key role in pressure sore prevention, resulting in reduced health care costs and enhanced quality of life (Warms, 1987). According to the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, "Major emphasis on health promotion has the potential long-term benefits of extending longevity, enhancing quality of life, and reducing healthcare costs" (1979). Health promotion is an extremely important aspect of the prevention of pressure sores in people with SCI, and serves as a benefit to all those involved in the process of prevention and treatment.