There is no question in my mind… bite resistant arm guards and bite resistant clothing can help protect professionals specialised in special educational needs (SpecEd, SpEd or SPED) as well as mental health care professionals and other specialists within high secure hospitals.
Everyone working within these fields will know that human bites are relatively frequent in their work environment and that it is an occupational risk they face on a daily basis.
According to The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, bite injuries represent 1% of all emergency department admissions in the United States!
According to an article by Helen Acree Conlon, MS, MPH, ARNP, titled ‘Human Bites in the Classroom: Incidence, Treatment and Complications’ it has been estimated that at least one half of the population will experience some type of bite in their lifetime. Human bites are the third leading cause of all bites seen in hospital emergency departments after dog and cat bites. Human bites can be the source of exposure to body fluids, transmission of communicable diseases, infections ranging from cellulitis to osteomyelitis, and joint deformity from septic arthritis.
Approximately 10–15% of human bites will become infected. In the school setting, a teacher or other staff member can sustain a human bite while trying to protect a student from injury. Often the first responder to this type of incident is the school nurse. The role of the school nurse is to promote early reporting, accurate history taking of the time and mechanism of injury, administering immediate wound care, initiating early referrals to appropriate medical providers, and supporting proactive care in the form of adult hepatitis B immunization.
What can be the effects of a human bite, and how can bite resistant arm guards help?
We are all too aware that bite related injuries can become infected and mental health care professionals can subsequently be contaminated with pathogens. Transmissions of potentially life threatening viruses, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV are also a part of reality, hence I believe that recently developed bite resistant sleeves or arm guards can help protect the above highlighted professionals.
Other effects can include cuts, bruises, swelling, bleeding or pus, redness, tenderness, warmth around the wound and difficulty moving the wounded area or deformed skin and fewer.
According to data released by the UK’s NHS Security Management Service, mental health care professionals are far more likely to be attacked than other health care workers with a total of 38,958 assaults in 2008-09, accounting for 71% of attacks on health care staff during that period. However, the percentage of which involved human bites is unknown.
“More than half of nurses on mental health wards have been physically attacked”, the joint Healthcare Commission and Royal College of Psychiatrists report here in the UK states. This audit covered eight in 10 of the organisations providing in-patient care for the 30,000 mental health patients in England and Wales.
In 2010 the BBC published a statement of the deputy director of the Royal College of Nursing, saying that “attacks on staff working in mental health are increasing in Northern Ireland”.
Mark Perry, appeared close to tears when attending the NASUWT (largest teachers union in the UK) conference in 2009 and telling fellow delegates of his experiences with disturbed ten-year-olds in Wrexham, North Wales. He described that on one occasion he was bitten so hard that blood was drawn.
Another delegate, Suzanne Nantcurvis, a geography teacher from Llangollen, North Wales, said she knew members who had been forced to pay for immunisations and protective equipment. ’Biting is quite a big issue in special schools and when risk assessments are completed it is usual to put in the control measure of a protective arm guard,’ she said. (taken from UK newspaper ‘Daily Mail’, printed 16th April 2009)
Looking at the potential and realistic consequences, especially following a human bite, we must look at all possible options in order to help protect mental health care professionals, teachers within special needs schools and others working within challenging sectors e.g. autism and severe learning disabilities, from such consequences. These consequences in the very worst case scenario can include death, in case a serious and incurable disease has been transmitted.
Bite resistant clothing and sleeves can make a difference
The use of bite resistant clothing has recently become an extremely efficient approach to improve the individual safety of mental health care workers, drastically reducing the danger of infections.
We need to be aware of the fact that our main muscle for bite is very powerful and is known to allow us to create a bite force/pressure of over 250 lbs, understanding the average bite pressure attained by humans is 100 – 150 lbs of force.
Debbie Townsend, Physical Intervention Training Manager of the Oxfordshire Learning Disability NHS Trust (UK) says: “Human bites can cause both physical injury, risk of infection, soft tissue damage and psychological distress to staff. Whilst our staff teams are usually aware of the potential for bites from records of previous incidents and preventative steps are taken, additional measure to protect staff from a bite may be beneficial.”
I suggest we can say that bite resistant clothing is clearly ‘beneficial’.
Especially bite resistant sleeves (arm guards) have lately been issued to a number of mental health care specialists in countries around the world. Our normal instinctive response when faced by a hostile individual is to lift our arms and hands in order to defend ourselves and protect our head and facial area. This subsequently exposes our forearm and hands to a higher risk of danger of injuries.
In fact the majority of injuries found on police or security specialists can be found on their forearms or hands. These injuries are classed as defensive injuries. Cut, slash and bite resistant sleeves or arm guards will significantly decrease the risk of bite injuries on arms and hands, and subsequently reduce the risk of infections and cross contamination.
Bite resistant sweatshirts made out of the recently developed Cut-Tex® PRO high performance fabric can comfortably be worn under or on top of existing items of clothing or uniform. They are of course fully machine washable.
However, it is worth pointing out that bite resistant clothing only reduces the danger of human teeth penetrating the other person’s skin… but will not quit the potentially painful impact due to the pressure and force of the human jaw. So the danger of infection will be eliminated, but the danger of bruising remains.
But, the good news is that UK based PPSS Group have now launched an additional model of their Version 1 sleeves, offering additional (padded) protection from blunt forced trauma, effectively reducing the severity of potentially extremely painful bruising.
Based on the many conversations I had recently I can certainly confirm the main worry within this sector seems to be the risk of infection.
If you want to speak with me or my team about bite resistant clothing and how it potentially can help you within your line of work… please call +44 (0) 845 5193 953 or email email@example.com or visit www.ppss-group.com
Take good care of yourself,
For intellectual property/copyright reasons, Cut-Tex PRO labelled products cannot be sold and delivered to Germany!