Active air mattresses, also referred to as alternating air mattresses and air flows, are an essential part of the fight against pressure ulceration. In the early 1960's most active mattresses were a type of ripple overlay mattress that was situated on top of a ward mattress. Unfortunately, this era was a difficult time for the NHS and knowledge referring to active mattresses was in its infancy. This, according to Bliss et al. (1966) meant that substantial numbers of the overlays were unplugged or not working, that they were often situated on hard rubber bases, and that the two hourly repositioning regime was at least in one ward abandoned. This meant that early trials into 5.2cm overlay (with a questionable 5 minute cycle) was taken as read; that cells of less than 10cm in depth were unsuitable for the prevention of ulceration. What is clear is that air cells of 10cm do work, especially when coupled with a quality foam base of circa 3cm with an inflation time of circa 10 minutes. This is the case with one of the UKs most popular mattresses, the Squirrel Medical dormir mattress. This ground breaking design which is based on the patented Squirrel Diamond active mattress has been used by varuous care home providers as an effective aid in the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers.
Bliss, M: Mcclaren R, mattresses for preventing pressure sores in geriatric patients 1966 238-268