​Novel Support Surface Based On Smart Material To Alleviate Pressure Ulcer Formation During The Rehabilitation Of Immobile​​

Project IDRRG2/16005
PartnersTan Tock Seng Hospital, and A*STAR
FocusPrecision Rehabilitation
Clinical PIDr WONG Chin Jung
Consultant, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Technical PI
​Dr CHIAM Keng Hwee
Principal Investigator, Bioinformatics Institute
Agency for Science, Technology and Research


The challenge

Pressure ulcers or bed sores are localised damage to the skin, muscle and underlying tissue, caused by unrelieved pressure, usually over bony areas of the body. They can result in sepsis, cellulitis and bone and joint infections such as osteomyelitis, which can be life threatening.

They are common in those who are bedridden, immobile, neurologically compromised, or paralysed, such as individuals with spinal cord injuries. They are also likely to develop in the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, poor nutrition, low skin elasticity, or healing potential. They have been associated with a four-fold increase in the risk of death among the elderly with pressure ulcers. Roughly 60,000 people die each year due to bedsore-related complications. Over 50% of those who develop bedsores in hospital settings die in a year or less, according to a 2020 study.*

The management of pressure ulcers is a priority. Most pressure ulcers can be prevented but the assessment is currently manual, with nurses physically turning over and repositioning the patient’s body every 2 hours. This adds to the workload of caregivers and the manpower burden of hospitals.

* Source from: https://www.nursinghomeabusecenter.com/nursing-home-injuries/bedsores/stages/stage-4/


The proposed solution

There is a need to make use of advanced technologies to help address this problem. In particular, there has been increased research in the last few years to develop specialised support surfaces such as mattresses and overlays to relieve, reduce, and redistribute pressure at high risk areas such as the bony prominences.

We propose to develop a support surface which can redistribute pressure over bony prominences by using smart elastomers whose rigidity is dynamically sensed and tuned. We will conduct a clinical trial to assess tolerability, comfort, usability and to analyse pressure over time for high-risk areas in immobile patients.