Amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, health ministry issued guidelines recommending vulnerable practices for COVID-19 patients undergoing home care.
Proning is a reclining position that allows for better breathing comfort and a better flow of oxygen in our body. The prone position is very beneficial for individuals who interfere with breathing comfort.
What does proning do?
According to an article by Pen Medicine, physical position affects the distribution and volume of air in the lungs and can cause expansion or collapse of the fine alveoli which are responsible for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.
This suggests that lying in a supine position – essentially on the back – can make underlying lung function worse. However, sleeping on your stomach helps not to make the situation worse.
In the 1970s, doctors saw the potential of placing patients on their stomachs to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – a medical condition caused by diffuse bilateral alveolar damage and a severe mismatch between the vents (movement of oxygen in and out of the alveoli) during respiration) and perfusion (blood flow to the alveolar capillaries).
Inadequate ventilation and perfusion leads to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood and lack of oxygen, also known as hypoxia – something that COVID-19 patients suffer from because of its impact on the lungs.
Hypoxia causes low oxygen saturation and cyanosis – a blue discoloration of the skin. ARDS is also one of the leading causes of death in COVID-19 patients.
How do I practice proning positions?
As stated in the guidelines, proning is the process of turning the patient’s body over with the correct self-movement from the conventional position lying on the back to lying on the stomach.
For pronation, you will need a total of five pillows. One to two pillows under the neck, one under the chest through the upper thigh and two pillows just below the shin.
If you can move your body on your own, you can try self-pronation, where you will cycle through a series of positions throughout the day that will allow for optimal oxygen flow.
For this, you start by sleeping on your stomach for a maximum of 30 minutes to two hours, then shift to your side (left) position for 30 minutes to two hours.
Furthermore, you sit for a maximum of 30 minutes to two hours. Shift to a lying position on your side, this time to your right side for no more than two hours, then return to the prone position.
The first thing to make sure is that you don’t get tense for an hour after you eat a meal. Next, practice on your stomach until it is easily tolerated, when it starts to feel uncomfortable / painful, stop immediately and relax your back.
A person can be vulnerable for up to a maximum of 16 hours throughout the day. Also, be aware of any pressure sores or injuries. Proninig should also be avoided in case of pregnancy, people suffering from deep vein thrombosis, heart conditions, unstable smooth fractures, femur or pelvis.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is not to provide medical advice. If you or anyone around you exhibits any symptoms, consult a medical healthcare professional.