Preventing Pressure Ulcers

Pressure ulcers  occur in up to 80 per cent of people with spinal cord injury and typically occur at the buttocks.  Development of a pressure ulcer is related to high rates of rehospitalisation and disability, and can be an enormous physical, emotional and financial burden.

Pressure ulcers develop when continuous unrelieved pressure, friction or shear is applied to any tissue of the body, but usually occurs over a bony area. If  the pressure in the tissue is greater than the blood pressure then no blood can flow through the tissue. For people with spinal cord injury who can’t feel pain, these ulcers are often left un-noticed, and result in serious infections and long stays in hospital, if left untreated, they can lead to death.

Studies have shown that a novel creation of Electro-Stimulation Shorts have the potential to reduce the pressure associated with sitting down in relevant muscle groups.  Electrical stimulation induced activation of the gluteal muscles effectively improves sitting pressure distribution, muscle mass and circulation.  These changes will lower the risk of pressure ulcers and have the potential to improve quality of life.  The Stoke Mandeville Masson Research Award will explore the benefits of electrostimulation-induced muscle activation to prevent pressure ulcers in people with spinal cord injury.  The collaboration will take place between the Cardiovascular Science research group at the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University in close collaboration with Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the VU University Amsterdam, and Reade rehabilitation centre in Amsterdam.

If the shorts are proven to be effective there is the potential for developing the technique in other high-risk areas such as heels and elbows.

3-Year Project costs: £119,685 funded by Masson Legacy and Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust

Share this article

Print Email