People with a spinal cord injury spend large parts of their day in a wheelchair. This puts extreme pressure on skin tissue in the area the wheelchair user sits on, which carries a risk of a pressure sore developing. To relieve pressure, the wheelchair user's bottom must be lifted from the seat of the wheelchair for about one minute every hour.
80-85% of people with spinal cord injuries develop a pressure sore at least once in their life, and a considerable percentage of these sores are in the area of the body they sit on. This occurs despite people with spinal cord injuries sitting on special cushions that aim to distribute the body weight over as large an area as possible.
Depending on the severity of the sore, surgery may be necessary, which brings with it about two months of healing and rehabilitation.
This aim is to avoid this. Together with REHAB Basel, the Innovation Centre for Assistive Technologies (IAT) is working on a solution.
An innovative, technically active wheelchair cushion aims to automate pressure-relieving measures for the first time. Seating stability, which is essential for many activities of daily living and for using a wheelchair independently, must be maintained in this process.
The seating area is divided into various support zones, which can be adapted to the personal requirements of the user. Specially developed regulation algorithms constantly transmit the necessary pressure relief measures to the intelligent seat cushion.
Project status: An ETH report confirms the intended relief function of the Smart Cushion. The developers are looking for industrial partners.