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Vol. 37 No. 3, May/June 2000
Pages 315 - 324

Abstract - Comparative biomechanical evaluation of different wheelchair seat cushions

Maurizio Ferrarin, DrEng, PhD; Giuseppe Andreoni, DrEng, PhD; Antonio Pedotti, DrEng, Prof

Centro di Bioingegneria, Fondazione Pro Juventute Don Carlo Gnocchi, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS)--Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy; Dipartimento di Bioingegneria, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.

Abstract — The aim of the present study was to perform a comparative biomechanical analysis of four antidecubitus wheelchair cushions. Thirty wheelchair users were considered divided into three groups: paraplegic subjects (with no cutaneous sensation), neurologic subjects (with intact cutaneous sensation), and elderly subjects. The biomechanical evaluation was performed using a piezoresistive sensor matrix system to quantify parameters referred to pressure distribution, seating surface and posture. Dedicated software was developed for the automatic elaboration of the raw data and the computation of the parameters of interest. Differences among cushion types and subject groups were analyzed. An analysis of time-transient behaviors was also performed. Results showed that no significant differences in pressure peak reduction were found among the four cushions. Moreover, no time-transient behavior was shown by any cushions. However, both the location of pressure peaks and posture were dependent on cushion types. Comparison of the three subject groups showed that elderly subjects had the highest mean pressure and the lowest contact surface, while paraplegics presented the highest pressure peaks. This procedure appears indicated for individualizing the prescription of a wheelchair cushion and even for customizing a cushion to induce a specific posture.

Key Words: decubitus ulcers, posture, pressure distribution, pressure sores, wheelchair cushion.

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