Researchers patent technology for smart seat cushion, adaptable prosthetics

UTA researchers patent technology for smart seat cushion, adaptable prosthetics
this is smart seat cushion. Credit: UTA

The University of Texas at Arlington has patented a smart seat cushion that uses changes in air pressure to redistribute body weight and help prevent the painful ulcers caused by sitting for long periods of time in a wheelchair.

The same can be used to create prosthetic liners that adapt their shape to accommodate changes in body volume during the day and maintain a comfortable fit for the prosthesis. Poor prosthetic fit can cause skin damage and create sores in the residual limb of the wearer.

"Pressure ulcers caused by long periods of sitting without relieving 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," said 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 or sores."

The researchers recently presented the results of their studies on a full-sized seat cushion prototype at the ASME 2018 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference held August 26-29, 2018 in Quebec City, Canada.

When a person sits on the cushion, a network of sensors generates a pressure map and identifies vulnerable areas where pressure relief is needed. Automated pressure modulation uses this data to reconfigure the seat cushion surface to offload and redistribute pressure from sensitive areas. Additionally, the seat cushion periodically changes the pressure profile to eliminate pressure buildup over time.

The researchers demonstrated the effectiveness of the technology using healthy volunteers with different weights who assumed different positions: leaning forward, backward, to the left or right. In all cases, the seat cushion measured the pressure immediately and automatically performed an effective pressure redistribution to offload pressure from sensitive areas. "This technology has multitude of applications in biomedical fields," Wijesundara said. "We really feel that it shows great promise in helping patients and their caregivers avoid the pain of stress ulcers and sores."

Mickey McCabe, director of UTARI, congratulated the UTA team on the recent patent issue.

"UTA's Research Institute has the mission of taking inventions out of the lab and making them useful to society," McCabe said. "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."


Explore further

New wheelchair device to prevent pressure sores

Citation: Researchers patent technology for smart seat cushion, adaptable prosthetics (2018, September 20) retrieved 21 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-09-patent-technology-smart-seat-cushion.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
151 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Sep 20, 2018
Interesting gadget. I can think of one problem they are going to have with selling them though as I'm sure they will be ridiculously expensive. The majority of people in wheelchairs are on Medicaid or Medicare at least here in the U.S. Neither of those would be willing to pay for some seriously overpriced computerized seat cushion and since it will have a 'medical' tag you can automatically assume the price will be at least 3x what they would probably cost if sold on the regular market. Just like prices on mobility scooters.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more