Volume 47 Number 1, 2010
Pages 31 — 42
Abstract — Deep tissue injury (DTI) is a severe type of pressure ulcer, in which damage initiates under intact skin, in soft tissues that are mechanically deformed by load-bearing bony prominences. Sitting-acquired DTI typically occurs in the gluteus muscles that could sustain deformations by the weight-bearing ischial tuberosities (ITs). No clinical method currently exists for measuring internal tissue deformations; so design and selection of wheelchair cushions are based mostly on meas-uring sitting pressures. Our objective was to evaluate the influence of different commercial cushions on internal soft-tissue deformations under the ITs, using weight-bearing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We specifically compared muscle, superficial fat, and effective (muscle and fat together) tissue deformations while subjects (n = 10) sat on four cushions (two viscoelastic and two foam) and directly on a rigid support. Deformations were maximal in muscle tissue (mean ~70%), twice more the amount than in fat (~30%). Effective soft-tissue deformations were ~50% to ~60%. Although cushions mildly reduced muscle deformations in the order of 10%, theoretically, our interpretation suggests that this deformation level adds safe sitting time. This study demonstrated that weight-bearing MRI is applicable for evaluating wheelchair cushions and, in the future, may be a tool to systematically support cushion design and selection.
Keywords: bedsores, decubitus, deep tissue injury, foam, open MRI, pressure sores, pressure ulcer, rehabilitation, sitting pressures, viscoelastic.