Wheelchair cushion could ward off ulcers by adapting to pressure
Wheelchair users face a number of challenges, including the fact that remaining seated for long periods of time can give them pressure-induced skin ulcers. A new adaptive seat cushion, however, may keep that from happening.
Developed at the University of Texas at Arlington, the device is made up of individual electronically-inflatable/deflatable segments, along with a network of pressure sensors.
When someone initially sits on the cushion, those sensors create a digital map, indicating the areas of the body that are being subjected to the greatest amounts of pressure. The device responds by selectively further-inflating or deflating its segments, in order to redistribute the pressure so that it isn't concentrated in specific areas.
Additionally, after establishing a pressure profile when a person first sits on it, the cushion proceeds to vary that profile periodically, to keep pressure from building up in any one place. The technology could also be incorporated into adaptive linings installed on the sockets of artificial legs, that would minimize the chances of the user developing pressure ulcers on their stump.
"This technology has a multitude of applications in biomedical fields," says co-inventor Dr. Muthu Wijesundara. "We really feel that it shows great promise in helping patients and their caregivers avoid the pain of stress ulcers and sores."
Source: University of Texas at Arlington