In-seat activity of wheelchair users measured over multiple epochs dataset

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Sprigle, Stephen
Sonenblum, Sharon
Feng, Chen
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Pressure ulcers, by definition, are caused by external forces on the tissues, often in the regions of bony prominences. Wheelchair users are at risk to develop sitting-acquired pressure ulcers, which occur in the regions of the ischial tuberosities, sacrum/coccyx or greater trochanters. As a means to prevent pressure ulcers, instruction on performing pressure reliefs or weight shifts are a part of the rehabilitation process. The objective of this study was to monitor the weight shift activity of full-time wheelchair users with acute spinal cord injury over multiple epochs of time in order to determine consistency or routine within and across epochs. A second objective was to evaluate the accuracy of self-reported pressure relief frequency within each measurement epoch. A wheelchair in-seat activity monitor was used to measure weight shifts and other in-seat movement. The data was classified into multiple in-seat activity metrics using machine learning. Seventeen full-time wheelchair users with spinal cord injury were measured within multiple epochs, each lasting more than 1 week. Across all in-seat activity metrics, no consistent pattern of activity changes emerged. None of the in-seat activity metric changed in any one direction across a majority of subjects. Subjects tended to over-estimate their frequency of performing pressure reliefs. Self-reported pressure relief behaviors are not reliable, and therefore, cannot be used to evaluate preventative behaviors either clinically or within research. This study had the capability of fully investigating in-seat movements of wheelchair users. The results indicated that in-seat movement does not reflect a routine, either in pressure reliefs, weight shifts or other functional in-seat movements. This study has illustrated the complexity of assigning causation of pressure ulcer occurrence to seated behaviors of wheelchair users and identifies the need for improved clinical techniques designed to develop routine behaviors to prevent pressure ulcers.
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, through the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program under Award No. W81XWH-17-1-0221
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