Researchers in Alberta, Canada, are developing underwear that they hope will
prevent life-threatening pressure ulcers (pressure sores, bed sores, decubitus ulcers) for people who are immobile or
"This underwear may prolong my life," said
Warren Fleury, a 44-year-old whose spinal cord was severed between his
shoulder blades during a 1989 car crash, leaving his lower body
paralyzed. "I'm very excited because since I've been trying it, besides
(reducing the chance of) pressure sores, it's actually relieved some of
A pressure ulcer (pressure sore, bed sore, decubitus ulcer) forms when a person stays in one position for a long time without shifting or turning over.
increases pressure deep inside the muscle, breaking it down and
creating an inflammation that isn't felt by those who have lost
sensation and isn't noticed until it comes to the surface, sometimes
resulting in fatal infections.
Pressure sores can also start as skin abrasions or with excess moisture, and cause blisters and life-threatening craters.
Fleury said two of his friends have died from pressure ulcers.
smart pants are being developed by a team led by University of Alberta
cell biology professor Vivian Mushahwar. They will be equipped with
sensors that detect increased pressure and lack of oxygen in the
buttocks muscles of people bound to a wheelchair.
pressure gets to a certain level, the electric undies will emit a jolt
of electricity for seven to 13 seconds that will clench the muscles as
in exercise and recirculate the blood.
"We're hoping we
can restore this subconscious fidgeting to people who are unable to
move so that they don't develop pressure ulcers," Mushahwar said.
technology could be used on people with spinal-cord injuries or those
with degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and
ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease.
data suggests the underwear might do a better job of easing pressure
than the traditional way of having nurses regularly turn a person over.
Nurses are sometimes required to shift patients every 10 or 15 minutes.
volunteers who do have some sensation are telling us that the electric
stimulation is giving them much more relief than just lifting," said
Mushahwar, who has been working on the underwear concept for five years. For more, read the story.
Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is
dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing
home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke,
Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.
Posted on Thu, April 23, 2009
by Robert Carter