A pressure ulcer is one of the most important concerns for wheelchair bound patients with spinal cord injuries. A pressure ulcer is a localized injury near the buttocks that bear ischial tuberosity oppression over a long period of time. Due to elevated compression to blood vessels, the surrounding tissues suffer from a lack of oxygen and nutrition. The ulcers eventually lead to skin damage followed by tissue necrosis. The current medical strategy is to minimize the occurrence of pressure ulcers by regularly helping patients change their posture. However, these methods do not always work effectively or well. As a solution to fundamentally prevent pressure ulcers, a smart air cushion system was developed to detect and control pressure actively. The air cushion works by automatically adjusting a patient’s sitting posture to effectively relieve the buttock pressure.
To analyze the correlation between the dynamic pressure profiles of an air cell with a patient’s weight, a projection Moiré system was adopted to measure the deformation of an air cell and its associated stress distribution. Combining a full-field deformation imaging with air pressure measured within an air cell, the patient’s weight and the stress distribution can be simultaneously obtained. By integrating a full-field optical metrology with a time varying pressure sensor output coupled with different active air control algorithms for various designs, we can tailor the ratio of the air cells. Our preliminary data suggests that this newly developed smart air cushion has the potential to selectively reduce localized compression on the tissues at the buttocks. Furthermore, it can take a patient’s weight which is an additional benefit so that medical personnel can reference it to prescribe the correct drug dosages.