Wheelchairs and DVT – how to avoid blood clots
A staggering 1.85% of the global population uses a wheelchair every day. This means that over 130 million people require a wheelchair at some point every day—even if that use is limited to getting around at airports, malls, and public places or getting around the house. Additionally, over 50% wheelchair users are those aged 65 and older—which means that they spend most of their time in a sitting position—raising their risk of DVT or deep vein thrombosis compared to those who can stand up or move.
What is DVT? Is it different from Wheelchair Thrombosis Syndrome?
DVT—or Deep Vein Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein such as one in your calves or thigh. DVTs completely block blood flow and cause chronic pain and swelling in the affected region.
Wheelchair Thrombosis Syndrome is an alternative and more understandable name given to DVT to enhance public knowledge about this disease.
Why is the risk of DVT higher in wheelchair users?
Those who do not need a wheelchair for everyday tasks are able to contract their leg muscles, walk short distances, take bathroom breaks or fidget as they sit. This helps to ensure normal blod flow around the body and sends blood from the lower extremities to the heart quickly—reducing chances of clotting.
However, if you sit for long hours in a wheelchair, your blood flow slows and starts to pool in your lower limbs. This causes blood to become sludge-like, giving rise to blood clots. Wheelchair users who are unable to move without them (due to leg paralysis, amputations, or other problems) spend more time in a wheelchair than others. In fact, a study showed that over 40% of those permanently confined to a wheelchair developed DVT in the long run. This included patients who had spinal cord injuries.
What are the symptoms of DVT?
Most sufferers find it difficult to assess their condition in time due to limited mobility or lack of information. Others consider these problems to be due to sitting for extended periods. Some common symptoms of DVT include:
Swelling in the leg that is different from the mild swelling caused due to sitting
Pain in the leg
Warm skin at the clotting site
As you can see, many of these symptoms can occur due to reasons other than DVT but ignoring them can cause long-term health problems such as pulmonary embolisms (a life-threatening complication associated with DVT) and Postphlebitic syndrome (permanent damage to the veins from the blood clot). From these two complications of DVT, PE’s alone cause thousands of deaths each year.
How can wheelchair users avoid DVT?
Avoiding DVT is important for wheelchair users to ensure that they lead a healthy life. Most wheelchair users are prescribed blood thinners to reduce incidents of clotting. There are many ways to avoid DVT for wheelchair users but ensure that you consult your physician or nurse before trying any of these suggestions. Some important methods to avoid DVT include:
Use a wheelchair that fits
Wheelchairs from manufacturers such as Drive DeVilbiss are specifically engineered to suit your requirements. Wheelchair sizing helps you to find a wheelchair that is not too narrow, too wide, or too low for you—ensuring that you sit comfortably in it.
Move your limbs when you can
Stretch or move your limbs—even if you need someone to do it for you. Performing simple exercises such as moving your feet in a circle or up and down 10-15 times an hour is sufficient to boost circulation.
Stop smoking and drinking
If you smoke or consume alcohol, it is important that you quit. Smoking and alcohol consumption increase your blood pressure, doubling your risk for DVT.
Wear a compression hose
These elastic stockings help to keep blood flowing toward your hard by constantly putting pressure on your legs.
Use a compression device
Using a compression device for your legs or even a massage chair can squeeze your legs at intervals and keep blood moving throughout your body.
How can Sanrai help?
Sanrai has a wide range of mobility devices from top international manufacturers such as Drive DeVilbiss. These mobility devices can help you get up and about—which helps to improve your blood flow, posture, balance and enhance your mobility. Additionally, these wheelchairs also come with several usecases and in various sizes—so you can choose the product that suits your specific needs.
Deep Vein thrombosis is a serious health risk and requires immediate medical attention. Wheelchair users must ensure that they take every precaution necessary to avoid such issues. Ensuring that you choose the right wheelchair, do the right mobility exercises can significantly reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis—helping you lead a healthier and happier life.
At Sanrai, our wide range of devices helps you find the perfect fit and ensure that the product you choose suits your exact requirements. The product experts at Sanrai can help you or your family purchase a wheelchair that is right for you. To know more, schedule a consultation with our product experts today!