American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Pressure Ulcer Prevention: Optimizing a Temporally Redistributing Support Interface

Joshua M. Peterson, Colleen P. Healey, G. Jacobus Visser, Cameron Crombie and Eric H. Ledet

DOI : 10.3844/ajeassp.2016.1222.1231

American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Volume 9, Issue 4

Pages 1222-1231


One of the most common complications from long-term wheelchair use or bed rest is pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers have significant morbidity and are associated with high mortality. Prolonged sitting can cause high pressures in the skin and subcutaneous tissue which can lead to local ischemia and breakdown of skin. Rapid relief of pressure prevents ulcer formation. One prevention strategy is to change the temporal distribution of pressure at the interface between user and surface so that no one area is subjected to high pressures for long periods of time. While there are several dynamic interfaces in use currently, there is no definitive evidence of enhanced pressure ulcer prevention with their use. The purpose of this research was to parametrically evaluate interface array sizes, shapes and patterns for dynamic support surfaces to optimize pressure redistribution to prevent pressure ulcers. Finite element analyses, anatomical phantom deep tissue pressure measurements and interface pressure mapping were used to test various support geometries and sizes and different array spacing and patterns. Results indicate that modulating pressure in an array of supports that are equally spaced is not effective. Only interrupted pattern arrays resulted in sufficient pressure reduction. These data suggest that dynamic surface supports can be optimized based on the geometry and size of the individual supports and the pattern of the array to further reduce the likelihood of pressure ulcer formation.


© 2016 Joshua M. Peterson, Colleen P. Healey, G. Jacobus Visser, Cameron Crombie and Eric H. Ledet. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.