Best mattress for spinal cord injury – October 2021

Medically Reviewed:

Please, pay attention that this article was medically reviewed by orthopaedist Dortha Hodges

Sources cited:

Medical experts cited:
Dortha Hodges, an orthopedist from Georgia
– Tobias Parsons, aneurosurgeon from Florida
– Matthew Holt, anorthopedic surgeon

Note:

MattressTree.com is a website that provides information about how to improve your sleep and select the best mattress for your needs and budget. It should not be regarded as medical advice, nor should it take the place of professional medical assistance. Please contact your healthcare practitioner if you believe you are suffering from any type of sleep problem, chronic pain, or other illness.

As a person with spinal cord injury, you know how hard it is to get a good night of sleep. The mattress needs to be just right for your comfort and safety. Researching the best options can take a lot of time, but we have done all the work for you! In this article, we will talk about what mattress is best for people with spinal cord injuries, as well as 3 mattresses that are worth looking into if you suffer from this condition.

According to the World Health Organization[1]Spinal cord injury – WHO – https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/spinal-cord-injury, the annual global incidence of spinal cord injury is 40 to 80 cases per million and this number is increasing every year. 90% of these cases are consequences of trauma. People with this condition have very stable sleeping positions that can lead to a pressure sore. This guide will help you prevent it with help of the best beds on the market.

The effects of this problem

As a result of spinal cord injury, secondary diseases can develop that can even be life-threatening. This includes diseases like urinary tract infection, osteoporosis, vein thrombosis, muscle spasms, pressure ulcers, and others.

Besides, you may find it difficult to fall asleep due to lower back pain. Some mattresses can be uncomfortable and too thick which leads to a worsening of the problem. That’s even can lead to insomnia.

This is what orthopaedist Dortha Hodges says about it:

“It’s very important to provide the necessary comfort and back support to people with injury. And spinal cord mattress is the best way to do it. With it, you can heal properly and sleep without harm to your health.”[2]From phone interview with an orthopaedist Dortha Hodges on August 31, 2021

How I conducted the research

I spent 27 hours conducting this research to pick the best mattress for a spinal cord injury. I looked at 35 different mattresses, tested them, and then narrowed them to 3. I consulted with an orthopaedist, orthopedic surgeon, and neurosurgeon to add the expert opinion in the article.

What is a spinal mattress?

A spinal mattress is a special mattress that provides recovery from injury. It relieves spasms and improves the blood circulation of the spinal cord due to correct posture.

The spinal mattress is designed to support the spine along its natural curves and provide comfort. It’s used for people with limited movement, or after surgery due to injury, disease (like cancer), osteoporosis, or any other reason that requires immobilization of your back.

It also reduces pressure on the area of ​​the injuries. If you are immobilized, it can also improve blood flow along your body’s main artery which runs through the vertebrae in the back.

Benefits of mattress for a spinal cord injury

With these mattresses, spinal cord injury patients can get prevention of pressure sores and reduce the development of existing ulcers. A good option is an alternating pressure mattress with a nylon covering. However, it’s important that they are not too soft because then you will sink into them and your spine may be distorted.

It’s also more comfortable than common mattresses because of realizing pressure from the lower back. It helps to fall asleep easier and faster.

Downsides

The first downside is that these mattresses can be expensive for some people because they are specialized and designed only for spinal cord injury. It is much easier to buy a regular spring mattress that doesn’t provide the needed support for a spinal cord.

The second problem is that it’s pretty hard to find a good mattress for the spinal cord. Most of the mattresses I tested were uncomfortable and even dangerous for health. And it’s the reason I decided to do this research and find 3 really good mattresses.

Types of mattresses for a spinal cord injury

There are many different types of spinal mattresses. When choosing the one that is right for you, there are a few things to consider: your body weight and dimensions as well as pain levels. If you have no problems with blood circulation it’s good to go with an air mattress or latex foam bed.

Pocket spring mattress

Pocket spring mattresses are the most popular type. It’s made of thousands of springs, that maintain the contours of your body and allows them to lie flat against the mattress. But it isn’t the best type for spinal cord injury because it does not provide needed support to your spine. It can be good for people with blood circular diseases like arthritic.

Memory foam mattress

If you prefer a firmer mattress, go with gel memory foam or latex. It’s also good for people who don’t like the feeling of sinking into their bed while they sleep. But it’s not recommended for people with special medical conditions like spinal cord injury. Foam mattresses are designed for both people without spine problems and those who suffer from specific conditions because they relieve pressure and properly support the spine.

Latex mattress

It’s very durable and long-lasting as well as supportive, but not too firm. And it’s good for those who sweat at night because latex has a good airflow effect. But like a foam mattress, it’s not intended for people with a serious injury.

Alternating pressure mattress

Alternating pressure mattresses are designed especially for people with spinal cord injury, pressure ulcers, and other medical conditions. The method of this therapy is pressure redistribution that stimulates blood circulation. The air is blown into bladders that are placed under the patient using an airflow dial. It allows setting certain amounts of pressure and perfect comfort for a person with SCI. The whole process takes about 10-20 minutes. Due to the normalization of blood flow, bedsores heal faster and cramps relieve.

This is what neurosurgeon Tobias Parsons says about it:

“I don’t recommend using pocket spring, foam, or latex mattresses. These types can cause problems with putting pressure on certain parts of your body as well as hurting people who suffer from spinal cord injuries because it’s too firm for them.

Alternating pressure mattress is an effective way to prevent bedsores and provide deep sleep for spinal cord injury patients. It’s more comfortable and more effective than common mattresses. ” [3]From an in-person interview with aneurosurgeon Tobias Parsons from Florida on September 12, 2021

Things to consider when choosing a mattress

The first thing you need to do when looking for the best spinal cord injury mattress is consulting your doctor or therapist. They will recommend what type of bed would work the best with your needs and condition. The doctor may recommend you a memory foam mattress, or low air, it depends on your medical conditions and problems.

The density and type of the mattress

When you start looking for the best mattress it’s important to learn about density. The higher is its density, the more supportive and durable your bed will be. Another factor that can influence how long will last your new mattress is its type: foam, innerspring, or latex.

Warranty and return policy

The mattress should have at least a 1-year guarantee and you should choose those stores that have free returns in case you don’t like the mattress.

Best thickness

The best mattress for a spinal cord injury should be of medium thickness. It’s recommended to have it 7-10 inches or 18-25 centimeters thick. The reason is that the spine has natural curves, so if you lie on a flat surface your lower back tends to arch which can raise the risk of curvature the posture.

Go to bed on your own or ask a caretaker to help you

If you have a spinal cord injury and your bed is not adjustable, it will be hard for you to go from side to the back. In this case, ask somebody to help you get in or out of bed. If you do it for yourself, you should choose a pretty thin mattress. This makes it easy to get up and down from the bed.

Skin sore

The last thing that should be considered is skin sore. The mattress for spinal cord injury must have a breathable cover and it’s recommended to find one with good airflow. If you don’t do this, your bed may become damp from perspiration which can cause pressure sores or rashes.

Is a topper needed?

In some cases it would be good, but not in all. If you have chronic pain or if your mattress is too firm and pressing on specific points of the body, then it’s worth considering. However, if your mattress pressure relief function works well enough without any additional layer underneath.

Top 3 mattresses for a spinal cord injury

Finally, it’s time to top 3 mattresses that best meet the evaluation criteria and passed all quality tests.

Invacare Microair Alternating Pressure Low Air Mattress

If you care for people with spinal cord injuries, this is the right product for you. The Cell in Cell design prevents bottoming out during power failures and can easily be wiped down to keep it looking neat. This resilient solution is perfect for long-term care facilities because of its natural heel slope that will decrease pressure on your most vulnerable area, protection against bacterial growth by way of its soft nylon urethane-backed cells, and extra-thick pad cover. It’s no surprise that the Low Air Alternate Pressure Mattress was designed by professionals who understand what caregivers need.

Invacare is a leader in the manufacture of mattresses for people with medical conditions. Most of the reviews about them are positive, so I put them on top of the list.

Here is what orthopedic surgeon Matthew Holt says about the Invacare mattress

“Invacare mattress is designed especially for people with spinal cord injury so it has a good effect on your spine and health at all. if you have used a regular spring mattress before, you will feel the difference already on the first night of use. Invacare mattress has a good airflow that contributes to the prevention and treatment of spinal cord injuries.” [4]From Zoom interview with an orthopedic surgeon Matthew Holt on September 22, 2021

How I tested Invacare mattress

The Invacare mattress showed the best results among the mattresses I have chosen so that I put it in the first place. In my tests, I considered such factors as:

  • Durability
  • Quality of materials
  • Easy of use
  • Price-to-value relationship
  • Comfort
  • Expert opinion

Quantitative measurements of Invacare mattress

It has 8 inches thick which is perfect for spinal cord injury. The product dimensions are ‎80 x 36, weight is 21 pounds. It also has a 1-year warranty.

What sets Invacare mattress apart from the competitors

The Alternating Pressure Low Air Mattress from Invacare creates a customized pressure relief system that’s perfect for low to medium-risk residents with limited movement. Made of soft nylon urethane cells designed to clean easily and inhibit bacterial growth, this mattress is backed by a high-quality quilted cover made just for protecting heels and other sensitive body parts. Plus it comes with a natural heel slope you can feel good about.

Gastronorm size means less movement transfer and no noise to disturb others at night.

Pros

  • perfect thickness
  • 1-year warranty
  • lightweight and easy to use
  • moisture protection

Cons

It can be too expensive for some people. Because of mattress has special technology for a spinal cord injury, it’s not suits everyone so that it’s not cheap. But if you are want to spend money on your health, Invacare best choice for you.

How does it feel to use an Invacare mattress beyond the manufacturer’s info?

Nylon non-slip base provides low friction and moisture protection which is a big benefit of this mattress. The nylon base is also vaporing permeable and flexible. Invacare mattress is 8-inch thickness which is not too soft but still very comfortable to lie on it.

What users like about the Invacare mattress

People who tend to sweat while sleeping is really appreciated the Invacare mattress. Reviewers also noted great spine support which is perceptible on the first night sleeping on this mattress. People get up in the morning rested and without sharp pain. Also, users appreciate the Invacare mattress’s lightweight.

Apex Medical Domus Mattress

The Domus Auto is a premium mattress with an intuitive digital pump for hassle-free set-up and daily use. Our Cell-on-Cell design, featuring Bottom Cells as basic pressure support, keep the mattress from bottoming out in case of power failure to ensure you have a restful sleep. Apex Medical has created a lightweight cover made from Nylon/PU which offers a high level of comfort and simple cleaning. The Domus range includes different levels of weight sensing technology – Manual or Automatic – to suit your individual needs and preferences.

Who is it for

Apex Domus Mattress is perfect for people with medium to high risk of pressure ulcers. It has 5 modes and simple tuning to select optimal pressure and provide individual comfort. It’s very easy in this mattress to change the level of support.

What users like about the Apex Medical Domus Mattress

Apex Medical Domus is a 5-in-1 mattress that allows you to choose from up to five settings including Automatic Weight Sensing Technology. The Cell-on-Cell technology prevents bottoming out in case of a power failure and lets you dial into your desired comfort level with the intuitive digital pump. A quiet noise of 26 dB (A) and nylon and PU cover provides an ultimate restful sleep experience for anyone at home or on the go. 

The bottom cells act as basic pressure support so it doesn’t feel like all your weight is above your hips posture can be preserved. This also helps keep your spine straight.

Quantitative measurements of Apex Medical Domus Mattress

Product dimensions are 210 x 90 cm, weight is 6,9 kg or 15 pounds. Alternating is 2-in-1 and thickness is 8 inches that are suitable for spinal cord injury. The weight limit is 200 kg. Apex Domus mattress has a 1-year warranty.

Pros

  • 5 therapy modes
  • Cell-on-cell design
  • Moisture protection

Cons

It’s suitable only for people with moderate to severe injury. If you need a mattress for prevention and you don’t have this problem it’s not the best choice.

Proactive Aire Mattress

In a world where sleeping is often judged as either good or bad, the Proactive Aire from Proactive Medical Systems provides an unparalleled pressure ulcer management solution. It combines dual therapies of low air loss and alternating pressure in one unit. The durable & powerful, yet quiet user-friendly pump is seamlessly designed to provide relief for patients suffering from stages I-III Pressure Ulcers and spinal cord injury.

The mattress is 20 individual bladders that allow for deep immersion and excellent pressure redistribution. It has adjustable airflow settings to meet your every need – up to ten minutes in duration with unique intervals so you can sleep peacefully without interruption.

Who is it for

The Proactive Aire Mattress is designed for people with includes 1 to 3 stage and spinal cord injury.

What users like about the Proactive Aire Mattress

The Proactive Aire mattress is designed for people with spinal cord injury so it provides everything they need. This mattress has a unique cooling system, high quality, and a perfect thickness of foam layers.

The mattress provides pressure relief, which is very important because of pain and numbness. Proactive uses special materials to make their products soft enough and supportive at the same.

Quantitative measurements of Proactive Aire Mattress

The mattress has an 18-month warranty. The thickness is 8 inches and the weight is only 10 pounds or 4,5 kg. Product dimensions are 36” x 80”. It has 18 laser holes with a cool effect and 20 bladders.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Pressure therapy system
  • Airflow dial 

Cons

This mattress doesn’t suit people with the IV stage of includes. And it’s quite expensive because of special materials and a professional support system.

FAQ

What size is available for such mattresses?

It’s usually available in one standard size because these mattresses don’t suitable for two people.

Does a mattress for a spinal cord injury suitable for children?

Yes, if a child has this problem. The size is standard and suitable both for adults and children.

Does medicare cover alternating pressure mattresses?

No, Medicare doesn’t cover the ACP mattress. It works only in cases when the patient has III or IV stages of pressure ulcers.

Is the leg raising system important?

Yes, it is very important when you have a spinal cord injury. This system keeps your skin from sores and pressure ulcers.

Why you should trust us

The article and mattresses in the top 3 are approved by orthopaedists, orthopedic surgeons, and neurosurgeons. All mattresses passed quality tests and have certifications.

Conclusion

A mattress is really important if you have a spinal cord injury so choose your mattress carefully and follow our tips. We also found the best three mattresses for spinal cord injury. So, hope you finally find the best mattress for your problem!

References

References
1Spinal cord injury – WHO – https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/spinal-cord-injury
2From phone interview with an orthopaedist Dortha Hodges on August 31, 2021
3From an in-person interview with aneurosurgeon Tobias Parsons from Florida on September 12, 2021
4From Zoom interview with an orthopedic surgeon Matthew Holt on September 22, 2021

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