The Fowler position is a method of patient positioning commonly used in medicine. But what exactly is this position? Why is it used? Does it help with breathing? Find the answers to these questions in this article.
What is the Fowler position?
Fowler’s position is a half-seated position in which the patient’s back is at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the horizontal plane. In other words, when placed in the Fowler position, the patient is lying on a hospital bed, stretcher, or treatment table with the backrest raised at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. This places the patient in a half-seated position with the back slightly raised. The knees can be straight or slightly bent when the patient is placed in the Fowler position. To allow for knee flexion, the foot of the bed can be adjusted appropriately, or a cushion can be placed under the patient’s knees.
When to use the Fowler position?
Fowler’s position is a method of positioning the patient to aid breathing and oxygenation. When the patient is placed in a half-sitting position, the abdominal muscles are relaxed, which improves breathing and promotes oxygenation. Thus, the Fowler position is mainly used in patients with respiratory problems. For example, this position is used in emergency care during a case of respiratory distress, such as when a patient has an asthma attack. Fowler’s position is also used with immobilized patients to relieve the torso compression that occurs due to gravity.
What are the variations of Fowler’s position?
The main variations of the Fowler position are the semi-Fowler position, the high Fowler position, and the low Fowler position. Physically, the difference between these positions is the degree to which the patient’s back is tilted.
The semi-Fowler position
In the semi-Fowler position, the patient’s back is tilted at an angle of about 30 degrees. The patient’s knees are typically slightly bent at a 30-degree angle in this position. The semi-Fowler position helps prevent the development of bed sores. It is, therefore, often used with patients who are bedridden for a long time. This position is also sometimes used during childbirth, as it offers superior comfort to the mother. The semi-Fowler position is also recommended for patients undergoing treatment that may cause nausea, such as chemotherapy. Patients in the semi-Fowler position generally experience less nausea than patients in the supine position.
The high Fowler position
In the high Fowler position, the patient’s back is tilted at about 60 to 90 degrees, and the knees are bent or straight. This position is used when a patient needs to feed, as it facilitates the digestion process. It is also used in radiology, for example, when taking images at the bedside. However, it should be noted that the high Fowler position adds pressure on the gluteal bones. Thus, keeping the patient in this position for too long is not recommended, as this can lead to discomfort and promote the development of bed sores.
The low Fowler position
In the low Fowler position, the patient’s back is tilted at an angle of about 15 degrees. Since this position is comfortable for the patient, it is often used as a resting position, especially after an operation. It is also used for blood sampling. It can also be used to reduce heartburn caused by gastroesophageal reflux or to relieve lower back pain.
To summarize, the Fowler position is a patient positioning method requiring the patient to be placed in a half-seated position at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. This position is primarily used to relieve respiratory problems. It also comes in three variations, determined by the degree of back tilt of the patient.
For more information about medical tables and treatment chairs that allow the patient to be placed in the Fowler position, please feel free to speak with a team member.