Pressure Injury Prevention and Treatment

What is a pressure injury?

A pressure injury (also known as a ‘pressure ulcer’ or ‘bedsore’) is an area of damaged skin and flesh caused by staying in one position for too long.

In clinical terms, a pressure injury is described as a ‘localised injury to the skin and/or underlying tissue, usually over a bony prominence, as a result of pressure, or pressure in combination with shear

The first sign of a pressure injury is often a discoloured area that does not turn white when pressed.  There might be discomfort or pain. If the pressure is not relieved regularly, the damage can range from a blister to a deep open wound. People with darkly pigmented skin may not have a visible pressure injury initially and need close attention.

Why do pressure injuries matter?

55,000 people get a pressure injury every year in New Zealand, even though evidence tells us that 95 percent are preventable. They impact the New Zealand population and health system by prolonging hospital stays, delaying community reintegration and in the most severe cases cause death. This all leads to a reduced quality of life.


Tips for preventing pressure injuries

If you’re in bed

  • Change your position every two to three hours, moving between your back and sides
  • Use pillows to stop your knees and ankles touching each other, particularly when lying on your side
  • Try to avoid creases in your bed linen
  • If sitting up in bed, be aware that sliding down can cause injury to your bottom and heels
  • Ask for help if you need it

If you’re in a wheelchair

  • Relieve pressure by leaning forward, lifting with your arms if able, or leaning side to side for a few minutes every half hour.

It’s also important to:

  • Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids
  • Keep your skin clean and dry
  • Ask your health professional for help with any incontinence


Peer led education videos

The videos below have been created to enable peer to peer education on the importance of pressure injury impact, prevention and treatment. The content is based on international literature, recent ACC research and the lived experience of the participants in the videos. The development of this resource, released on World Spinal Cord Injury Day 5th September 2018, is a collaborative work of BAIL and the NZ Spinal Trust funded by ACC of New Zealand. We are grateful to everyone involved who have made this powerful resource possible.


Learn about prevention and treatment of pressure injuries

Learn about the impact of pressure injuries

If you have any concerns consult a health professional as soon as possible

The following organisations have more comprehensive information regarding pressure injuries.


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