OCT 07, 2018 1:51 AM PDT

Adaptable Prosthetic: The Smart Seat Cushion

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Developers at the University of Texas at Arlington have recently patented a smart seat cushion that utilizes changes in air pressure to allow the redistribution of body weight helping to prevent the painful ulcers that are a result of long periods of sitting in a wheelchair. The adaptable technology can be used in the creation of prosthetic liners to accommodate changes in body volume during the day and maintain a comfortable fit for the prosthesis; this is especially crucial since poor prosthetic fit can often lead to skin damage and sores in the residual limb of the wearer.

"Pressure ulcers caused by long periods of sitting without relieving pressure at boney regions such as the tailbone, frequently occur in people who spend significant amount of time on wheelchairs. In the case of prosthesis users, poor fitting of the prosthesis leads to pressure injuries for amputees that can severely affect their daily life," explains Muthu Wijesundara, co-inventor of the technology and chief research scientist at UTA's Research Institute or UTARI.

"Our technology improves on existing solutions by including real-time pressure monitoring and automated pressure modulation capabilities to help combat the formation of pressure ulcers or sores."

Sitting on a cushion causes a network of sensors to generate a pressure map that identifies vulnerable areas where pressure relief is desired. Using this data, the automated pressure modulation reconfigures the seat cushion surface to redistribute pressure from sensitive areas. The seat cushion will periodically change the pressure profile to eliminate unnecessary pressure buildup over time.

Learn about the history of prosthetics:

"This technology has multitude of applications in biomedical fields," says Wijesundara. "We really feel that it shows great promise in helping patients and their caregivers avoid the pain of stress ulcers and sores."

"This patented technology will do precisely that, helping patients avoid added trauma and reducing the burden of costs associated with ulcers and sores on the healthcare system. A real win-win for all sides,” explains Mickey McCabe, director of UTARI.

Source: University of Texas, Arlington

About the Author
  • Nouran is a scientist, educator, and life-long learner with a passion for making science more communicable. When not busy in the lab isolating blood macrophages, she enjoys writing on various STEM topics.
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