Introduction/Research

Home     Pressure Sore     Project Overview     Goals     Design     Acknowledgements

 

                In order to understand the needs that were determined by the customer site visit, more knowledge of pressure sores was necessary.  According to www.webMD.com [12], pressure sores are areas of damaged tissue and skin that are usually caused by lying in one position for an extended period of time which causes blood circulation to slow down and allows sores to develop under the surface of the skin.  Since these sores are under the skin, they are difficult to detect until they become more severe and visible over time.  These sores are classified into 4 different stages of severity seen in Figure 1.  Stage 1 starts as a red blemish on the surface of the skin, which if left untreated, follows the progression to stage 4 where the pressure sore is very severe and can cause death in some cases.  If a pressure sore is not properly treated it will become infected and affects the body just like an open wound.

 

Figure 1: Pressure Sore Stages

(Courtesy of www.WebMD.com)

 

       The main points on the body that are typically affected by pressure sores are shown in Figure 2.  The back of the head, shoulders, lower back, buttocks, and heels are normally the places that are in most contact with a surface during the sleep period.  This constant contact in the case of a physically handicapped person can not be adjusted without outside assistance, and if no assistance is available the person is very likely to develop sores where the pressure is located.      

                Usually pressure sores have three simultaneous methods for treatment:  the pressure on the sore needs to be eliminated, the sore needs to be treated, and the nutrition of the patient needs to be monitored to allow for fast healing.  This project will focus on the elimination of pressure that creates the sore in the first place.  Prevention is ideal when dealing with pressure sores because they are very difficult to detect in the early stages of development.  

                Many devices are available for the relief of pressure sores, but are usually at a higher cost than the concept this team has developed.  Most of the devices found use air to alleviate sores, especially when alternating contact points are needed.  Memory foam and other stationary foams and setups were briefly researched, but were not in the scope of this project.  Akton polymer pads [1] are used to alleviate pressure, but mainly are just for added support of the body and give minimal relief to certain areas.  Two mattresses, the Careguard [5] and the Roho [11], were found to adjust pressure with user movement and were broken up into smaller sections for more overall pressure relief.  These, along with the Thera-Max-HFS memory foam [5], were found to be inadequate for this project because of the lack of alternating pressure points.  Some other methods found were deemed not suitable, such as the Neuro Care 1000 [8], which used electrical stimulation to help the blood circulate more consistently to eliminate pressure areas by forcing blood flow.  All of these devices were not suitable for the needs of the Arc of Monroe.

                The main devices researched were ideas that involved alternating points of contact on the userís body and were found to be much closer to what was necessary for this project.  Many types of alternating pressure beds were researched from the following websites: www.medicalproductsdirect.com [6], www.sunrisemedical.com [7], and www.sentech.com [10].  These beds, although many were alternating, only contained two different cycles for alleviation.  The needs of this project require that the bed has a minimum of three cycles for alleviation, limiting the usefulness of the research collected.  No affordable system is available on the market that allows for three different cycles for alleviation of pressure areas.  Therefore, adding a third cycle led to the need for a new concept to be developed in order to meet the customer requirements of this project.

 

Figure 2: Pressure Points on Body

(Courtesy of www.WebMD.com)