Using Technology in Occupational Therapy Intervention to Prevent Sitting Acquired Pressure Ulcers

Background: Despite high quality guidelines underpinning pressure ulcer care (EPUAP/NPUAP/PPPIA, 2014), pressure ulceration still poses a significant financial impact on health care services in treatment and staff costs as well as having a profound effect on the health and quality of life of individuals suffering from them. A review of the International literature yielded only four studies that explore the role of the occupational therapist in pressure ulcer care, none of which identified the use of technology as a tool in daily practice. 

Objective: To explore the outputs of technologies such as interface pressure mapping systems and accelerometers in enabling the therapist to accurately monitor seated behaviour and enhance practice through targeted interventions to prevent sitting acquired pressure ulceration.

Method: Reviewing the findings of two recent research studies conducted by the authors with ‘at risk’ cohorts (spinal cord injury; elderly orthopaedic), using accelerometry and seated interface pressures, this paper will highlight how useful this technology is in clinical practice to monitor weight shifts and repositioning behaviours.   

Result: Both studies illustrated that the majority of individuals did not adhere to the frequency or magnitude of movements currently recommended to redistribute seating interface pressures. When repositioning was performed it was ineffective in reducing seated pressures. 

Conclusion: In an era of personalised medicine, technology has an important role to play in providing the service user, caregivers and healthcare staff with important biofeedback information about seated behaviours, particularly those that minimise the risk of developing sitting acquired pressure ulcers. This information can augment occupational therapists’ clinical decision-making in maximising active pressure ulcer prevention.

Presented by: Dr Alison Porter-Armstrong, DPhil, BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy, MRCOT, HCPC Registered OT, Senior Lecturer Rehabilitation Sciences, Ulster University, Northern Ireland.

Authors: Porter-Armstrong A1, Stinson MD1, Schofield R2.


1. Institute of Nursing and Health Research, School of health Sciences, Ulster University

2. Formerly Ulster University, currently Middletown Centre for Autism, Co Monaghan, Ireland