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RiseUp! System: Wheelchair Pressure Relief Monitor

System which allows individuals to gauge how well they are performing crucial pressure relief exercises in their wheelchairs.

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Individuals who use wheelchairs and who may have little sensation below the waist are highly susceptible to developing debilitating and life-threatening pressure sores. These sores occur when pressure from a seat cushion is isolated on certain areas of the skin, resulting in potential breakdown of the skin and tissue underneath and infection. Pressure relief exercises are crucial to preventing these sores. These include moving their body side to side, front to back, or raising their whole bottom upward.

Many users of wheelchairs find these exercises inconvenient, since they need to be typically done every 30 minutes. Also those that perform them may not fully extend their position enough for full effect, due to the inability to know when they are completely off the wheelchair cushion. This system under development utilizes an Arduino Uno, FSR sensors, LED's, and other inexpensive components. It allows users to gauge how well and how often they are performing pressure reliefs.

Thanks for visiting this project site. Pressure sores are a severe problem that many individuals who use wheelchairs deal with in some way or another. This is due to the the inability to move their bodies around wheelchair seat cushions. The pain receptors that would normally trigger someone to move their body around in a chair are not functional, and pressure continues to build up in isolated areas of the skin that are contacting the seat cushion. 

Recently, I had a friend who was unable to work for 18 months due to one single pressure sore that caused severe infection. He had to have several surgeries and needed to be hospitalized for most of this time.  Unfortunately, more than half of those who use wheelchairs can expect to experience issues with at least one pressure sore in their lifetime. 

The main way to prevent pressure sores is to perform pressure reliefs several times an hour.  

The system I am developing is designed for wheelchair users as a convenient way to prompt and monitor their pressure relief exercises.  Current wheelchair pressure sensing systems are targeted for physical therapists and other clinicians to use when fitting a proper cushion on wheelchair . These systems give feedback on how evenly pressure is distributed, and that certain pressure points will be alleviated. They are meant for use in a hospital or other clinical setting during the fitting phase. Several consumer oriented pressure sensor systems have appeared on the market over the years, but typically they are quite costly (4-8k) and may be too bulky for most wheelchair seating systems.

My system is designed to be simple, unobtrusive, and completely open source. For someone who is newly injured and just learning to use a wheelchair, this system will assist in training for pressure reliefs.

The main components of this device are readily available, and include an Arduino Uno, FSR sensors, and LED's. 

Thanks for dropping by! This is definitely a passion project for me. I hope that by developing this system I can contribute to the wellness of many of my friends and coworkers who use wheelchairs.

RiseUp.ino

Sketch File to upload to the Arduino Uno

ino - 1.74 kB - 10/21/2017 at 07:33

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  • 1 × Arduino Uno https://store.arduino.cc/usa/arduino-uno-rev3
  • 1 × Breadboard Electronic Components / Misc. Electronic Components
  • 3 × LEDs Electronic Components / Misc. Electronic Components
  • 3 × 330 Ohm Resistors
  • 3 × 10 Ohm Resistor

View all 13 components

  • Future Features to Consider

    drewman10/21/2017 at 08:33 0 comments

    Bluetooth integration to mobile app. App would log how often the user is performing pressure relief exercises. This could be in term used as a reminder system for those that are newly injured and in a wheelchair. 

    Wireless charging of the system for those that may not have the manual dexterity to plug in a charging cable. For those in power wheelchairs, the system could run on the wheelchair battery.

    Shear sensors on top of the cushion. Apparently shear can influence the development of pressure sores.

  • Major updates

    drewman10/21/2017 at 08:00 0 comments

    Updated instructions and new sketch file for Arduino Uno. At this point, everything works in terms of a proof of concept. Future steps will be to go beyond the breadboard phase, though initial testing with wheelchair users will be adequate as is.

    Fritzing diagram is not updated, but all that is added is two more FSR's connected to A1 and A2. Strangely, the fritzing program does not have the larger FSR's that I am using.

    Excited to get real feedback once testing begins in the upcoming weeks. Looking forward to expanding the scope and incorporating moisture sensors to help users determine if they are wet due to a leaky catheter. (This was the first thing that was relayed to me after showing the prototype).

    Some funkiness with updating the instructions on this project page. Steps sometimes get out of order.

  • RiseUp! System video

    drewman10/21/2017 at 00:26 1 comment
  • Revisions forthcoming

    drewman10/18/2017 at 21:09 0 comments

    Major revisions to this project will be published by the end of the week. Implementation of larger FSR's and revised parts list and code. Results from interviews and preliminary testing.

  • Interviews

    drewman09/19/2017 at 16:30 0 comments

    Awaiting the arrival of new, larger FSR's for the second prototype.  Also continuing to interview several potential users of wheelchairs for their input into the design of the system.  This is the most crucial aspect of this project. 

    https://www.adafruit.com/product/1075

  • step by step

    drewman09/01/2017 at 22:18 0 comments

    Some future plans:


    -Incorporate 3 FSR's (Larger ones). Currently one small one is placed in the rear portion of the chair.  The plan is to place 2 more on the left and right area of the seat cushion. The picture in the gallery shows the position of where they will be placed.

    -Audible feedback with a speaker attached to the Arduino was ruled out. Most wheelchair users I consulted wanted the system to be as discreet as possible, and audible feedback would be distracting. LED's seemed to be a good compromise.

    -Potentially incorporating bluetooth to interface with an app. The app would send out live data and reminders via push notifications. Would also keep a log of daily pressure relief exercises to monitor how well and how often they are doing them.  This seemed to be an attractive feature many wheelchair users I spoke to wanted. Notifications would be as discreet as possible.

  • First Iteration: Proof of Concept

    drewman09/01/2017 at 22:10 0 comments

    Current build is a proof of concept. One FSR is used. 

    This is the basic premise of how this system works now:

    When the individual sits on the sensor, all 3 LED's are not lit. When the person shifts in the chair (not completely), one of the 3 LED's is not lit, corresponding to the force that is distributed on the sensor. 

    When the individual wants to perform a pressure relief, he or she lifts their bottom away from the seat cushion. When the person's bottom is completely off the FSR, all 3 LED's will be lit. This indicates that he or she is performing the pressure relief correctly. 

  • Hello, World!

    drewman08/31/2017 at 17:16 0 comments

    Hello, World!

    Thanks for visiting this project site. Pressure sores are a severe problem that many individuals who use wheelchairs deal with in some way or another. This is due to the the inability to move their bodies around wheelchair seat cushions. The pain receptors that would normally trigger someone to move their body around in a chair are not functional, and pressure continues to build up in isolated areas of the skin that are contacting the seat cushion. 

    Recently, I had a coworker who was unable to work for 18 months due to one single pressure sore that caused severe infection. He had to have several surgeries and needed to be hospitalized for most of this time.  Unfortunately, more than half of those who use wheelchairs can expect to experience issues with at least one pressure sore in their lifetime. 

    The main way to prevent pressure sores is to perform pressure reliefs several times an hour.  

    The system I am developing is designed for wheelchair users as a convenient way to prompt and monitor their pressure relief exercises.  Current wheelchair pressure sensing systems are targeted for physical therapists and other clinicians to use when fitting a proper cushion on wheelchair . These systems give feedback on how evenly pressure is distributed, and that certain pressure points will be alleviated. They are meant for use in a hospital or other clinical setting during the fitting phase. Several consumer oriented pressure sensor systems have appeared on the market over the years, but typically they are quite costly (4-8k) and may be too bulky for most wheelchair seating systems.

    My system is designed to be simple, unobtrusive, and completely open source. For someone who is newly injured and just learning to use a wheelchair, this system will assist in training for pressure reliefs.

    The main components of this device are readily available, and include an Arduino Uno, FSR sensors, and LED's. Current prototype has one sensor in the back and underneath the wheelchair cushion. 

    More info to come in the next few days. Thanks for dropping by!

View all 8 project logs

  • 1
    Download RiseUp.ino found in the file section of this project page.

    The RiseUp.ino is a sketch file that contains all the code to run on the Arduino Uno.

  • 2
    Connections to Arduino Uno

    Wash and dry your hands. Clear your work area.  Drink your favorite beverage.

  • 3
    Step 3

    Solder about 2 feet of speaker wire to each of the 3 FSR's. This takes a bit of practice, so if you are not too experienced with soldering, use a clamp-style connector or alligator clips. For just seeing if the circuit will work, you can also plug the FSR directly into the breadboard.

View all 11 instructions

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Simon Merrett wrote 10/01/2017 at 23:37 point

Hi @drewman , you might be interested in #Ebers  and my project #SoleSense for healthcare pressure sensing ideas. 

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