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Finding the soft spot
Date:5/18/2010

There's currently no reliable tool to help prosthetic developers fit artificial limbs without ensuing discomfort or pain, or tell medical personnel when bed-ridden patients need to be moved to avoid bedsores and other problems.

But help is now on the way. Prof. Amit Gefen of Tel Aviv University's Department of Biomedical Engineering has developed the prototype for a new device he calls the Soft Tissue Stress Monitor, designed to alleviate some of the deep tissue damage and problems suffered by the amputated and infirm. The science behind his device was recently published in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering.

Bedsores, phone home

Prof. Gefen has already developed several versions of the monitor around his new core technology. One of them measures the stress load under the buttocks of a bedridden patient. Installed in a bed or wheelchair, the tool can assess when a load is too heavy and permanent damage might set in. The results of this new kind of "stress test" can then be sent to a handheld device like an iPhone to alert the patient or caregiver that an adjustment should be made. It might even be connected to a mechanical tool to automatically stimulate the body or readjust its position.

"We compare the output readings to critical levels in order to discover when a patient's tissues are at risk for injury," says Prof. Gefen. Potential injuries include deep tissue ulcers, which can result in painful bedsores. And in extreme cases, if left untreated, bedsores can become fatal.

In 2007, the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel in the U.S. defined the stages of a pressure ulcer, mainly using subjective visual assessments. Prof. Gefen's approach could lead to a more standardized, computerized test and an improved treatment outcome.

Guiding the surgeon's hand

Prof. Gefen's monitor could also be a boon to limb amputation surgery and the implantation of artificial limbs. Prev
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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