Select These 5 Design Factors in a Good Healthcare Mattress

Kessler Colson

When choosing a mattress (Therapeutic Support Surface) for medical purposes, whether at home or in a facility, there are a few key functions and features to consider.


For starters, though very subjective, you should definitely consider comfort. Just like the mattress you sleep on every night in your home, the medical mattress’s main purpose is to provide a consistently comfortable surface to facilitate quality rest.

However, a medical mattress needs to address a few more issues beyond just a good night’s sleep.

Moisture Control

Moisture control is an issue, whether moisture vapor transfer as a result of perspiration or pooling fluid from an incontinent episode. A high-quality fluid-resistant cover coated with vinyl or urethane will help keep fluids and moisture out of the mattress as well as add life to the product. The cover is the first line of defense for a mattress core, so if the cover seems thin or you can see light through it, you may want to keep looking.

Layered foams with soft interface surface


Support is key to sustained comfort and product life. A well-designed mattress immerses the user, while preventing bottoming out on the bed deck. Good support can be achieved through the use of quality, higher-density foams, as well as by layering foams of varying densities to create base support while maintaining a soft interface surface. The Lumex Select C500 Comfort Series is a good example of a supportive mattress.

Pressure Redistribution

One of the most important functions of healthcare mattresses is pressure redistribution. Often when a healthcare mattress is called for, the user is at risk for pressure-related injury as a result of compromised mobility, circulation or nutrition.

A mattress needs to immerse the user to “get them into” the top layer, helping reduce surface pressures around bony prominences. The Lumex Select line is designed around this concept.

Immersion can be achieved through various designs, but to start, you can look for a soft-but-not-too-soft top layer or the presence of surface modifications such as cut-outs to provide a base level of immersion. A well-built foam mattress is excellent for this purpose in most cases; however, for those at highest risk, a powered air mattress such as an alternating pressure / low air loss mattress may be needed, since such products provide a very high level of pressure redistribution.

Firm Perimeter

A firm perimeter is a feature that provides edge support when a user enters or exits the bed, an important consideration to reduce the possibility of a debilitating fall. A firm perimeter may also be referred to as a bolster or firm edge; it may be flush with the top surface of the mattress or slightly higher than the top surface to provide patients with a tactile point of reference.

Firm perimeter at outer edge

Although not a comprehensive list of features, functions or types, these factors are a good starting point when choosing a mattress. A majority of the healthcare-focused mattresses on the market will have some or all of these functions and features to varying degrees, so you will have to decide which are the most important based on your needs.

I find that sometimes it’s good to just lie down on the mattress you’re considering — call it product research..

Contact us for more ideas and advice.

Kessler Colson is a Product Manager at Graham-Field.


About GF Health Products, Inc.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare, and primary care markets. Graham-Field product brands include Basic American Medical Products™, Everest & Jennings®, Gendron®, Grafco®, Hausted®, Intensa®, John Bunn®, Labtron®, Lumex® and Lumiscope®. Visit or call 1.770.368.4700.