Pressure Ulcer Prevention and Detection with Electirc Underpants

Pressure Ulcer Prevention and Detection

Pressure ulcers are a serious health issue for those with mobility impairments such as spinal cord injury, stroke and other neurological damage. It is estimated that 80% of those confined to wheelchairs will develop at least one pressure ulcer, with the prevalence increasing after each occurrence and may lead to additional complications such as infections.
It is estimated that pressure ulcers and related complications cost the  health care system $11 billion in the U.S. annually. Research in the pressure ulcer group is focused on basic research in the etiology and early detection and applied research in the development of innovations to detect, prevent and treat pressure ulcers. Surprisingly, the etiology of pressure ulcers is still very poorly understood.
Early research in this area suggests that pressure ulcers may result from mechanical stress and we are continuing to investigate how mechanical forces play a role in the development of these ulcers. We are also investigating methods for detecting the onset of pressure ulcers; if a pressure ulcer can be detected early , early intervention could minimize the resulting damage. In this regard, we are searching for metabolic markers of pressure ulcers. These metabolic markers may then be the key to detecting pressure ulcers at the earliest stage.
Finally, over the past several years research on the use of functional electrical stimulation (FES) to prevent the onset of pressure ulcers and have developed the Smart-e-Pants, an undergarment that is fitted with electrodes in areas where pressure ulcers usually develop – areas with bony protrusions such as the buttocks. The electrodes deliver a small electrical impulse that causes the muscles to contract and simulating the ‘fidgeting’ process.
The Smart-e-pants are currently undergoing clinical demonstration at rehabilitation, extended care, and stroke clinics in Edmonton and Calgary. These demonstration studies have been instrumental for end-user feedback which in turn has led to numerous prototype improvements. Phase I clinical trials are in the planning stage.
Project SMART’s very own Smart-e-pants pressure ulcer prevention underwear has been tested at the Glenrose and Allengray hospitals in Edmonton and soon at the Foothills hospital in Calgary.
Pressure Ulcers are serious health complication that costs the Canadian health care system $3.5 billion annually; it is estimated that 80% of those confined to wheel chairs will develop a pressure ulcer.  However, pressure ulcers are not only limited to those in wheel chairs, but anyone with mobility challenges, such as those who have suffered a stroke, or other neurological damage.
Surprisingly, even with the advent of specialized pillows, mattresses and turning protocols in hospitals, the prevalence of pressure ulcers has remained unchanged since the 1940s.
Project SMART’s Pressure Ulcer team has developed an undergarment that delivers an electrical stimulation to areas that are most susceptible to these ulcers to stimulate the muscles in these areas and simulate the ‘fidgeting’ that able bodied people do –  this fidgeting is why able-bodied people do not develop pressure ulcers.  The garment, dubbed Smart-e-Pants, is now in limited clinical demonstrations at the Glenrose and Allengray hospitals in Edmonton and at the Foothills hospital in Calgary.
None of the study participants in these demonstrations have developed a pressure ulcer and the device. Clinical trials are in the planning stage.

About Elder Care Advice blog

Get professional elder care giving advice, advocacy, education and tips for those who care for and about the frail elderly at the ElderCareAdvice blog. We are generously sponsored by Most posts are written by Cathleen V. Carr, unless attributed otherwise. We welcome relevant submissions. Submit your article and by-line for publishing consideration (no promises!) to Havi at, our own editor who will ensure submissions are given the best possible treatment and polish before publication, ensuring a professional level of publication. There is a nominal service fee involved ($45). Allow up to 30 days for publishing.
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