The Importance of Weight Shifting for Pressure Relief

Posted by Garrison Redd in Life After Paralysis on September 26, 2022 # Health, Lifestyle

Garrison Redd, a wheelchair user, talking with two other people, one in a wheelchairLiving as a T-12 incomplete paraplegic for the last 17 years comes with many experiences, mostly good (fortunately) and some bad. The main reason I can attest to many good (even great) experiences is that I figured out ways to take care of myself. I realized it is some of the little things that affect us in major ways for my readers with a spinal cord injury. Whether it is urinary tract infections, spasticity, and many other issues that come with living with a spinal cord injury. This blog will discuss the importance of pressure relief to prevent skin breakdown that can lead to a pressure sore, on that part of the body where the sun doesn’t shine too often.

I am often asked by others how many pressures sores I have had during my life as a “para,” and what I say is, “None.” I never had a pressure sore or skin breakdown on my butt because I move constantly. When I was initially injured, I started out by having a regime where every 30 minutes I would take 2 minutes to do some pressure relief. Then, I would do push-ups using my side guards for support for about 10-15 seconds for 2 sets. Along with doing the push-ups on the side guards, I would also lean to each side for about 20-25 seconds for 2 sets.

Currently, after 17 years of being injured, I still do pressure relief. However, it isn’t as regimented as it once was. Throughout my day-to-day, I get pressure relief through transferring. Being able to transfer onto or into multiple objects such as cars, lounge furniture, or even work furniture provides me with a suitable amount of pressure relief to protect me from skin breakdown. I want to note that your transfer technique is also very important. I personally never slide to transfer; I always pop up. I will explain more about my technique in another blog. Just to give you an idea, I ensure my butt is always in the air when moving from the chair to another seating area. I do want to note that everyone’s technique will vary from person to person because we all have different abilities.

Another important factor when it comes to pressure relief is your cushion. There are various types of cushions, such as foam cushions, memory foam cushions, or air cushions. You would have to consult with your medical team to determine which one is best for you. I personally prefer air cushions from experience, as my skin does best with this form of cushion. Skin assessment is also very important, so, if possible, have someone check your skin daily, or you can purchase a mirror.

As important as pressure relief is, so is pressure prevention. So, check your skin daily and develop a proper pressure relief routine. For more helpful advice, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @GarrisonRedd.

My name is Garrison Redd. I am a T-12 paraplegic born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I am searchable under Garrison Redd on YouTube or @GarrisonRedd on Instagram and Facebook. You can visit my website thegarrisonreddproject.org.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.