What Are Common Reasons for Using Leg Compression Devices?

Patients need sequential compression devices, or SCD sleeves, when they are at risk of blood clots in their legs due to age, being overweight, recovering from surgery, limited walking due to hospitalization or other medical problems, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. SCD sleeves maintain pressure on the legs, helping prevent the formation of blood clots.

SCD sleeves wrap around the legs snugly but not too tightly, explains UPMC. The sleeves have hoses that plug into a motorized air pump, which causes the sleeves to massage the legs and help send blood back towards the heart. Nurses commonly remove the sleeves every eight hours or so for bathing, checking blood flow or other patient needs, but replace them within an hour. Patients must wear them while in bed or sitting in a chair but should remove them for safety reasons while walking. The sleeves should not cause numbness or tingling in the legs; if they do, the patient should notify a nurse.

In addition to SCD sleeves, the doctor may order other interventions to prevent clots from forming, says UPMC. He may recommend blood thinning medication, special exercises, getting out of bed regularly to walk around or physical therapy.