Hand in Hand: Humidity & Heat

As if the heat that consumers feel when in their seating systems isn’t enough of a challenge, the rehab team also needs to consider humidity and moisture that often accompany them or are exacerbated by warmer temperatures.

Evan Call, MS, CSM, NRM, lab director for EC-Service Inc., says that in a study and the resulting educational presentation done several years ago, “We actually showed that moisture follows heat very reliably. We showed that on a compound graph — where when temperature rises, the humidity at the body interface begins to rise — and they parallel perfectly.”

But there’s more than mere academic value in understanding the relationship between the two.

“The beauty of that study we did is we could actually show these patients that they weren’t doing their pressure relief lifts because every time they did do one, you saw a dramatic temperature and humidity drop, and then they would begin climbing again,” Call says.

He adds that understanding that dynamic can be a valuable training tool for consumers, who can be shown that they can care for their skin by performing regular pressure-relief lifts or shifts.

Better still: Even the types of lifts that are considered less than optimal for weight redistribution can be helpful in reducing heat and humidity.

“A lot of people really struggle with the pressure-relief lift, so if it’s too difficult to do the pressure-relief lift, have them do the forward lean,” Call suggests. “The critical area is the perineum, and if they truly do a forward lean and get their chest down to their knees as far as they can and get that perineum up just a little bit, that’s all it takes, and it does make a difference. Teach them to do a right-side lean and a left-side lean. The period in which those three leans are carried out generates a significant temperature and humidity drop at the bodycushion interface.

“We think of them as limited functions, but they actually do dramatically improve breathability at the body-cushion interface.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Mobility Management.

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