Logo for the Journal of Rehab R and D

Volume 45 Number 4, 2008
   Pages 537 — 550

Abstract - Toward real-time detection of deep tissue injury risk in wheelchair users using Hertz contact theory

Limor Agam, MSc; Amit Gefen, PhD*

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Abstract — This study assessed the suitability of a new portable system that is based on Hertz's contact theory for evaluating internal gluteal muscle stresses under the ischial tuberosities of wheelchair users in real-time as a risk indicator for a deep tissue injury. Sitting in a wheelchair was monitored and processed with the portable system for six control subjects and five individuals with paraplegia. We compared the resultant internal peak and average muscle stresses and stress integrals over time (stress doses) of the control subjects with those of the subjects with paraplegia and validated the results against previously published subject-specific finite element (FE) stress data for the same subjects. Individuals with paraplegia were characterized by peak muscle compression stresses (mean +/- standard deviation = 109 +/- 41 kPa) that were 2.4-fold higher than in control subjects (p < 0.03). A Bland-Altman comparison indicated that stresses recorded by the present system were in satisfactory agreement with previous subject-specific magnetic resonance imaging-FE analyses. We conclude that the present stress monitoring system has the potential to be a practical means for evaluating internal muscle stresses during everyday life of individuals with paraplegia.

Key words: contact analysis, decubitus, deep tissue injury, Hertz contact theory, muscle stress, paraplegia, pressure ulcer, rehabilitation, tissue biomechanics, wheelchair.

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