Assistive technologies for self-managed pressure ulcer prevention in spinal cord injury: a scoping review

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2015;52(2):131-46. doi: 10.1682/JRRD.2014.02.0064.


Pressure ulcers (PUs) in individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) present a persistent and costly problem. Continuing effort in developing new technologies that support self-managed care is an important prevention strategy. Specifically, the aims of this scoping review are to review the key concepts and factors related to self-managed prevention of PUs in individuals with SCI and appraise the technologies available to assist patients in self-management of PU prevention practices. There is broad consensus that sustaining long-term adherence to prevention regimens is a major concern. Recent literature highlights the interactions between behavioral and physiological risk factors. We identify four technology categories that support self-management: computer-based educational technologies demonstrated improved short-term gains in knowledge (2 studies), interface pressure mapping technologies demonstrated improved adherence to pressure-relief schedules up to 3 mo (5 studies), electrical stimulation confirmed improvements in tissue tolerance after 8 wk of training (3 studies), and telemedicine programs demonstrated improvements in independence and reduced hospital visits over 6 mo (2 studies). Overall, self-management technologies demonstrated low-to-moderate effectiveness in addressing a subset of risk factors. However, the effectiveness of technologies in preventing PUs is limited due to a lack of incidence reporting. In light of the key findings, we recommend developing integrated technologies that address multiple risk factors.

Keywords: SCI; assistive technology; integrated technologies; pressure ulcer; pressure ulcer incidence; pressure ulcer prevention; risk factors; self-managed care; spinal cord injury; wheelchairs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Pressure Ulcer / etiology
  • Pressure Ulcer / prevention & control*
  • Self Care*
  • Self-Help Devices*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*