Donning and Doffing Compression Garments

The obstacles patients face when putting on or taking off compression garments and how to overcome them.

The largest challenge for any patient putting on or taking off compression garments is that those garments are nothing like regular socks or hosiery that they have worn in the past. Compression garments are much more difficult to put on, and for patients with flexibility limitations and conditions such as arthritis, putting on and taking off compression garments is that much harder. The resulting frustration can negatively impact compliance.

The most common mistake patients will make is that they will put on compression hosiery as though it were a typical sock; by bunching the compression sock up on their hands at the point above its heel. Then they’ll try to pull it up over their toe area and then their heel, which is very hard to accomplish.

Providers can help them by training patients on the different methods for fitting compression socks:

•  In the “heel pocket out” method, the patient puts his or her hand into the sock, grabs hold of the heel and turns it inside out, in order to more easily get move the sock over the more challenging portions of the patient’s foot. Then the patient slowly smoothes the sock up around his or her leg.

•  Using rubber gloves can make the process go much more smoothly, by providing traction to help grab hold of the sock.

•  A patient can use a tool, such as a donning and doffing device that provides a frame that holds an open toe sock in position and lets the patient step into it. Or, a patient donning an open toe sock, can place a plastic sack over the foot, slip the compression sock over that, and then pull the sack out from under the sock.


This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of HME Business.

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