University of Southern California Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Mitch got a spinal cord injury when he was 14 years old. He was injured in a car accident. Mitch's family was very supportive. They looked after him. He went to college and worked for a big company. However, when Mitch lost his job, his lifestyle changed a lot. He said: "I do nothing." Mitch was worried about getting pressure ulcers (which is what a doctor or nurse calls pressure sores or bedsores) on his bottom. Because he was propping himself up on his elbow to relieve pressure on his bottom, Mitch got a pressure ulcer on his elbow instead! It was his first pressure ulcer in the 23 years since his injury.

Read more about Mitch in these articles...

For 23 years after his spinal cord injury, Mitch did not have a pressure ulcer. Then he got one on his elbow. Why? His doctor thinks it's because Mitch is getting older. Older skin is not as strong. It's easier to get a pressure ulcer when you get older. Mitch had to change the way he did things because his skin is starting to get older.

→ read more in Making Choices

Because there is less padding, it's easier to hurt older skin by rubbing, sliding, scraping or too much pressure. Maybe that's why Mitch went 34 years with only one pressure ulcer, then got four ulcers in just 2 years.

→ read more in Skin Getting Older

Alley, Dave, Helen and Mitch all got pressure ulcers when they got older. You can't control getting older, so it's a good idea to do more skin checks when you are older. It's also a good idea to eat healthy foods when you are older.

→ read more in Things You Can't Control

Gary and Mitch both did a lot of hanging out with friends, without remembering about pressure reliefs. They both got pressure ulcers.

→ read more in Doing Things

People who are depressed sometimes stay in bed more. They stop doing things they like. Mitch stayed in bed all day when he was depressed. When you don't move for a long time, you can get a pressure ulcer.

→ read more in Depression

Mitch thought that he couldn't stop a pressure ulcer. He said:

"No matter how much I seem to take care of it, it just seems to get bigger."

→ read more in "It Just Happened"

Mitch had surgery on his elbow. He could not lean on his arm. He could not use his arm to take pressure off his bottom. Mitch needed help. He needed an air mattress to help keep his weight even. That helps take pressure off. Mitch did not have an air mattress. He got a small pressure ulcer on his hip. Mitch ordered an air mattress. Mitch went to the doctor to see about his elbow. He didn't show his doctor the pressure ulcer on his hip. He didn't think it was important. The air mattress Mitch ordered did not come. Mitch didn't call the company to find out what was going on. He thought it would be okay to wait some more. The pressure ulcer got bigger. It got worse. Mitch learned a lesson. He learned to speak up for himself.

Mitch got a home health nurse to help him order an air mattress again. The company made a mistake. They sent him an air pad. This time, Mitch spoke up for himself. Mitch sent the air pad back. Mitch called his doctor. His doctor helped. This time, the right air mattress came to Mitch's house in a few days. It really helped Mitch to speak up for himself!

→ read more in Speaking Up For Yourself

Be sure you get advice from an expert, such as an occupational therapist (OT), or a doctor who knows a lot about people with spinal cord injuries. Mitch was told to get a new kind of bed. It turned out to be wrong for him. He really needed an air mattress. Mitch got a pressure ulcer.

→ read more in Wheelchairs and Other Equipment and Caregivers and Helpers

Speak up for yourself. A home health nurse ordered another air mattress for Mitch. The company sent Mitch an air pad by mistake. This time, Mitch spoke up for himself. Mitch called his doctor for help. This time, the right air mattress came right away. Mitch got what he needed!

→ read more in Rules

Billy, Dave, Mitch and Steve all lived with their parents.

→ read more in When You Don't Live in a Home

Mitch likes to stay in his room all day. He watches television. He uses his computer. He does not make plans. He waits to see if his friends or family want to go out. He doesn't have a lot of useful things around.

→ read more in Home

Mitch talked about choosing the best way to take pressure off. He says it gets easier to do! Here is what he said:

"[You have to] find ways that fit you and the way you live. Not every situation's gonna fit a person. You have to personalize every routine or class or whatever to fit that particular person.... I had personalized my own routine to a point where I don't even think about it now and I relieve pressure without even thinking about it. So that has already happened to me, but people who are newly hurt, they have to train themselves to do certain things. And that's where that comes in, where you personalize a particular routine. But once you already trained yourself to do a certain thing and it works, then it's pretty natural after that."

→ read more in What Causes Pressure Ulcers: Pressure and Sliding and Taking Pressure Off Your Skin

Here is what Mitch said about how he takes care of his skin now:

"There are too many things that you had to be doing. I mean, okay, when you are in the hospital, when you first get injured, they give you all these instructions, you know. 'You should relieve pressure every 15 minutes, and you should turn and do this, and you should exercise in range of motion.' And, I mean, you can't do all that stuff! You do it in the hospital, but in real life, you can't do all that stuff. So, you do what you are able to do and what's comfortable and what's normal for you that fits into your daily life."

→ read more in Taking Pressure Off Your Skin

Mitch said:

"If you do everything that you were taught to do in the hospital, you wouldn't have time to do anything else. You try to fit certain things into the way you are livin.'"

→ read more in Now I Get It!