The Völkner Turning System
In 1987 the Jameses received a brochure from a relative involved with medical equipment in Germany. It showed an innovative, patented, powered mattress overlay designed by Dr. med. Helmut Völkner, a German physician, for the prevention and treatment of pressure sores.
The system automatically turned the patient every 4, 5, or 6 minutes, and eliminated the need for manual turning except for wound treatment, bowel programs and personal care.
The unit consisted of a double row of air cells, side by side, divided in the center to provide pressure relief along the central axis of the body. Two air hoses connected the air cells to a control unit containing micro-processors and an air pump. The air cells were enclosed in a foam-filled vinyl cover. It was lightweight, modular, and portable. The patient was positioned on the unit on his/her back on the center of the unit. The patented design kept any pressure from being exerted on the patient's spine. Each side of air cells was then alternately inflated and deflated, turning the patient gently from side to side up to thirty (30) degrees.
When this equipment was introduced in Germany in 1984 at the Inventor’s Exhibition in Nürnberg, it was awarded the Gold Medal for the best invention in its category.
Ingrid James had been a public health nurse in the San Francisco Bay Area. Some of the patients she visited in their homes were bedridden and immobile. They had to be turned every two hours to prevent pressure sores. In many cases the patients were elderly, and the caregiver in the home was the equally elderly husband or wife.
The result of this two-hourly turning requirement, continuing throughout the day and night, was that the care-giver as well as the patient, would become “worn out” due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion from the demands of caring for the invalid.
Ingrid James realized that if the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM was made available in the United States it would be a tremendous boon to immobile patients and their care-givers. As a result, the Board of Directors of James Consolidated, Inc., decided to investigate the effectiveness of this unit with the possibility of the company distributing the equipment in the USA.
For this purpose, Ingrid James went to Germany to meet with Dr. Völkner, the project engineer, and the manufacturer. More importantly, she visited hospitals, nursing homes and private homes where the units were being used. She met with physicians, nurses, patients, and families to hear what they thought of the equipment. The response from everybody was enthusiastic and very positive as to the effectiveness of this device.
Consequently, the equipment was introduced to the USA for clinical testing in 1987, followed by active marketing in 1989 with James Consolidated, Inc., as the importer and exclusive distributor for North America.
The equipment, then named Dr. Völkner's Lamellar Turning Bed (literal translation of the German title), was immediately very successful, with rentals, leases and sales being made to private parties and insurance companies. Clinical tests of the System evaluated it as one of the most efficient units of its type on the market. In fact, it was rated “superior” in effectiveness to more expensive specialty beds and mattresses designed for the same purpose. After successfully testing several units at its Hines, Illinois, Rehabilitation Hospital, the Veterans Administration awarded a contract in 1991 to James Consolidated, Inc., to supply the equipment to VA hospitals and GSA facilities. The equipment was also approved for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
After years of successfully importing and distributing the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM, James Consolidated, Inc., decided to manufacture the “mattress overlay” in the USA. The design was slightly modified and US patents were granted in 1995 and 1998.
Further modifications were developed, resulting in the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM Mark I “low air loss” mattress overlay, with the following features:
- Higher low air loss air cells made of polyurethane coated nylon instead of vinyl in the original German version
- The addition of detachable air side bolsters
- Replacement of the vinyl covered foam padding with a quilted top cover made of Dartex™, and Staph-Chek® material for the bottom cover (see Note below)
- Stationary 2" air mattress below the turning air cells to prevent “bottoming out.”
- Alternating pressure and static air flotation were added to the turning mode (see Modes below)
- Currently, the Völkner® Turning System is registered in the USA and world-wide under patents #5394577 and #5956787.
Dartex™ is four-way stretch, fluidproof, moisture vapor permeable and protected against microfungi and bacteria. It is machine washable or dry cleanable and flame resistant.
Staph-Chek® is fluidproof, bacteria resistant (by the use of Microban®), flame resistant, stain/tear resistant, self deodorizing, non-allergenic, and anti-static.
Normally patients unable to turn themselves have to be turned manually every 2 hours day and night to prevent pressure sores. The VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM turns the patient automatically every 5 minutes, or 24 times over the same time period, allowing the patient to sleep undisturbed throughout the night, and providing relief to the caregiver.
There are no complicated dials or knobs to adjust on the control units. The patient's weight is adjusted once on the “comfort control,” the units switched on and from then on operate automatically.
Turning: (Lateral Rotation) The right and left banks of air cells inflate and deflate alternatively, causing the patient to be automatically turned from side to side every 5 minutes, relieving constant pressure on the pressure points and surrounding skin. The patented design of the Völkner® Turning System prevents any pressure on the patient's spine. The turning motion has been shown to also help eliminate pulmonary congestion. The turning movement is very gradual and patients report no sensation of uneasiness.
Alternating Pressure: This is the traditional method of pressure relief. Each alternating row of air cells inflates and deflates horizontally, exerting and relieving pressure to the pressure points. No turning of the patient takes place.
Static Air Flotation: In this mode, all air cells are fully inflated and remain so, with no movement taking place. The patient is supported on a cushion of air at all times. This mode can be used for wound treatment, during bathing/personal hygiene, patient transfers to and from wheelchair, etc.
In 1996, it was decided to expand the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM equipment line and to add a full mattress replacement to the existing turning mattress overlay, incorporating exactly the same successful technology used in the Mark I unit. The height of the turning air chambers, side bolsters, and the stationary air mattress was increased.
The unit is the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM Mark II low air loss Mattress Replacement. The turning angle on the Mark II is up to forty (40) degrees instead of the thirty (30) degrees on the Mark I Mattress Overlay.
In 1998, in response to requests for an even more cost effective unit to accompany the existing VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM Mark I Mattress Overlay and VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM Mark II Mattress Replacement, the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM EUROPA™ Mattress Overlay was introduced.
This has the same high quality construction as do the other units. It operates in the Turning, Static and Alternating Pressure modes. It is available in 2 versions with either a vinyl covered two inch (2") foam base or a two inch (2") static air base under the turning air cells.
In 1999, in response to requests from overseas firms, the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM ALPHA™ Mattress Overlay was introduced. This is exactly the same as the EUROPA™ except there is no two (2) inch static air or foam base.
All mattresses and overlays are manufactured in the USA using high quality material and workmanship, and are today shipped to countries world wide.
Each product's operating modes and specifications are described in the Products section.
Turning (Lateral Rotation)
(Elapsed time: 10 min.
or as selected)
Many patients suffering from the inability to move or turn themselves develop pressure sores on those areas of the body where insufficient blood is supplied to these areas. This is due to circulatory impairment that results in capillary closure.
The gentle, gradual, 30-40 degree turning angle of the patient from side to side by the patented VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM exerts less than 26mm Hg of pressure on the skin tissue.
This allows the capillaries to fill, preventing blood starvation and the formation of pressure sores. In this way, existing pressure sores stages I through V can be treated successfully. Clinical tests have shown that even patients following reconstructive surgery (skin flap) have shown faster healing by the use of the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM.
Low Air Loss Therapy
Immobile patients often suffer serious skin impairment leading to the formation of pressure sores. By utilizing low air loss therapy, the patient is supported by air-filled cells that float him/her, while at the same time providing a flow of fresh dry air under the patient.
With the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM, low air loss therapy is accomplished by allowing a gentle regulated flow of air to escape from minute, laser sized holes in the air cells supporting the patient. This air flow passes upward through the “fluid proof” but “vapor permeable” quilted four-way stretch Dartex cover. Any excess moisture contacting the patient’s skin is removed, and the skin is allowed to regulate itself naturally by evaporation through the skin pores.
As opposed to a regular hospital or home mattress which often gives uneven support, the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM conforms readily to the body. With the added advantage of “low air loss therapy,” turning support surfaces have proven to be an effective adjunct in the treatment of pressure sores.
Although the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM was originally designed for the prevention and treatment of pressure sores, it has been found that the turning action mobilizes pulmonary secretions, thereby relieving pulmonary congestion, a serious complication often found in patients unable to turn themselves.
It has also been observed that many patients using the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM achieved an increased level of emotional and physical well being. This resulted in better eating habits with an increase in nutritional intake, leading to faster improvement in pressure sore healing.
In this day and age, with the pressures and trials of modern society, many individuals, as well as persons unable to turn themselves, find they have trouble sleeping. Clinical tests of the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM listed as an additional attribute the fact that the sleep pattern of patients improved with the gentle turning of the unit.
Thus, anyone suffering from sleep deprivation may well find that the VÖLKNER® TURNING SYSTEM provides a welcome alternative to sleepless nights.