Pressure Ulcers and Applied Mathematics

Applied and Computational Mathematics Seminar
Friday, April 17, 2015 - 2:05pm
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 005
Schools of Industrial Design and Applied Physiology, Georgia Tech
The Rehabilitation Engineering and Applied Research Lab (REARLab) performs both experimental research and product development activities focused on persons with disabilities. The REARLab seeks collaboration from the School of Mathematics on 2 current projects. This session will introduce wheelchair seating with respect to pressure ulcer formation and present two projects whose data analysis would benefit from applied mathematics. 3D Tissue Deformation- Sitting induces deformation of the buttocks tissues. Tissue deformation has been identified as the underlying cause of tissue damage resulting from external loading. The REARLab has been collecting multi-planar images of the seated buttocks using MRI. This data clearly shows marked differences between persons, as expected. We are interested in characterizing tissue deformation as a combination of displacement and distortion. Some tissues- such as muscle- displace (translate within the sagittal, coronal and transverse planes) and distort (change shape). Other tissue such as skin and subcutaneous fat, simple distorts. We seek a mathematical means to characterize tissue deformation that reflects its multi-planar nature. Categorizing Weight-shifting behaviors - many wheelchair users have limitations to their motor and/or sensory systems resulting in a risk of pressure ulcers. Pressure ulcers occur when localized loading on the skin causes ischemia and necrosis. In an attempt to reduce risk of pressure ulcer occurrence, wheelchair users are taught to perform weight-shifts. Weight shifts are movements that re-distribute loads off the buttocks for short periods of time. The REARLab is measuring weight shifting behaviors of wheelchair users during their everyday lives. We seek a means to classify patterns of behavior and relate certain patterns to healthy outcomes versus other patterns that result in unhealthy outcomes.