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Development of functional pressure ulcer preventive garments


Background: Pressure ulcers are a significant health problem (Lozano et al. 2012) and the most common
dermatologic complication of a spinal cord injury and causes substantial morbidity (Stover et al. 1986). Support
surfaces such as cushions and mattresses reduce or relieve the pressure that the body's weight exerts on the skin
and subcutaneous tissues as it presses against the surface of the seat or the bed (Lazzara and Buschmann 1991,
Conine et al. 1994). Support surface cushions are effective and much used to relieve the interface pressure, but
there are many situations where the user is not able to utilize the cushions, i.e. when traveling by planes, buses,
cars, trains, etc. An active life, where the user is outside of his/her regular environment and routines, may offer
challenging situations where pressure relief is not possible by the use of support surface cushions.
By incorporating pressure relieving material directly in garments, the user is able to have pressure relieving aid
conveniently with him/her in most situations. There are no products on the market today that incorporates
pressure relieving materials in garments which are functional and effective in preventing pressure ulcers.
Aim: The aim of this pilot study was to develop functional pressure ulcer preventive garments
Method: A method for user-centered product development was applied in the process of developing and
designing a functional ulcer preventive garment concept. The characteristic of the method is its starting-point
with the user in the use-situation. Important user needs are derived from semi-structured interviews,
observations and use-analyses, and then structured and categorized in a specification phase. Informants were
selected to cover a diverse group of users, hence various age, gender, mobility disabilities, etc. A total of 4
persons, all with a spinal cord injury and various mobility disabilities were interviewed. Two additional interviews
were carried out with health care personnel for background information on the pressure ulcer management in
primary and secondary care. Data derived from the interviews were thematically grouped and structured as user
needs. A work shop with the users and product design team was arranged in order to prioritise the user needs.
The prioritised user needs formed the basis for the design concept of a pressure ulcer preventive garment.
Results: The interviews revealed that the need for pressure relieving aids is greatest in situations where the user
is out of his/hers regular environment or routines and there is great unpredictability concerning the time or the
possibility for making adjustments to the special needs, i.e. precarious situations where the user is left with little
possibility of adjusting or changing his/her sitting position, when the user encounters hard contact surfaces,
cramped sitting space or an extraordinary need for pressure relief of the body weight.


Academic lecture




  • SINTEF Digital / Health Research

Presented at

6th European Conference on Protective Clothing




14.05.2014 - 16.05.2014


Fedustria, ESF and Febelsafe, ETSA, Centexbel



View this publication at Cristin