Injured animals are often unable to move or change position within their cage. Alternating right, sternal, and left lateral recumbency every 4 hours is recommended for immobile patients. Frequent repositioning helps prevent atelectasis and pooling of secretions in dependent lung segments. Because position influences the distribution of blood flow to the lungs, changing body positions alters ventilation/perfusion relationships within the lungs.
When a patient is positioned with the compromised lung segment in a dependent position, that lung receives increased blood flow, resulting in increased ventilation/perfusion mismatch and impaired contusions or pneumonia are present, positioning the patient with the good lung down improves oxygenation by limiting ventilation/perfusion mismatch and improving gas exchange.
Frequent position changes in conjunction with comfortable bedding also help reduce the risk os pressure sores, edematous limbs, and muscle and joint stiffness. Repositioning is a simple physical rehabilitation techinique that should be employed in all immobile patients.
Vet Therapy – Cynara Campanati