Research Article Open Access

Pressure Ulcer Prevention: Optimizing a Temporally Redistributing Support Interface

Joshua M. Peterson1, Colleen P. Healey1, G. Jacobus Visser2, Cameron Crombie2 and Eric H. Ledet1
  • 1 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, United States
  • 2 Stellenbosch University, South Africa


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.

American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Volume 9 No. 4, 2016, 1222-1231


Submitted On: 1 December 2016 Published On: 22 December 2016

How to Cite: Peterson, J. M., Healey, C. P., Visser, G. J., Crombie, C. & Ledet, E. H. (2016). Pressure Ulcer Prevention: Optimizing a Temporally Redistributing Support Interface. American Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 9(4), 1222-1231.

  • 4 Citations



  • Pressure Ulcer
  • Pressure Sore
  • Wheelchair
  • Seating