Dr. Mac inventor of Akton polymer

Why all the fuss about viscoelasticity? What, really, is that property of materials used in the prevention of pressure injury in the OR?

Viscous materials resist shear flow and strain when stress is applied, while elastic materials quickly return to their original state once the stress is removed.  In materials science, viscoelastic substances lose energy when a load is applied, then removed, but polymers remain a solid material even when parts of their chains are rearranging.  The back stress in the material resists “creep”. “Visco” means the material moves, or “creeps”.  “Elastic” means the material recovers. Viscoelastic gel material has both properties.

“Pressure injuries are significant health issues and one of the biggest challenges organizations face on a day-to-day basis, says jointcommission.org. “Aside from the high cost of treatment, pressure injuries also have a great impact on patients’ lives and on the provider’s ability to render appropriate care to patients.”

Have you wondered why, back in April of 2016, the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) replaced the term “pressure ulcer” with “pressure injury”? The idea was to reflect injuries to both intact and ulcerated skin.

“All surgical patients should be considered at risk for pressure ulcer development, AORN emphasizes, through proper positioning of the patient on the surgical table.

At Action Products, the benefits of viscoelastic polymer are well-known. Through the innovation of the company’s founder, Dr. W.R. McElroy, the Akton® viscoelastic polymer gel was originally engineered for the treatment and prevention of decubitus ulcers within the medical industry.

Page. E12 of the AORN Guidelines for Patient Positioning merely confirmed what we already knew::  “The researchers found that both the foam and gel mattress and the viscoelastic gel overlay were significantly more effective than the foam mattress in preventing skin changes and pressure injury, but the viscoelastic gel overlay was the most effective surface for preventing pressure injury”.