TechTool Techno Review SensiMat

This week I’m taking a break from reviewing apps that educate us as doctors, and instead have decided to look at how our smartphones, and technology in general, can be used to help our patients.

A sensor for wheelchair users caught my eye this week.

SensiMat, designed by a team at the University of Toronto, aims to use tech to reduce the frequency of pressure ulcers in wheelchair users. It’s specifically aimed at wheelchairs users with impaired sensation, who might not be aware of pressure sores developing or who may not notice when they have been positioned too long in one place.

The sensor part is a small device that slides under any wheelchair cushion and it supplies data to smartphones.

This can be used in 3 ways:

  1. It can be set to alert the user when they haven’t changed position for a while.
  2. It displays patterns of pressure distribution so can help give users an idea of where they tend to put most pressure on their bodies, thus increasing awareness of positioning
  3. It produces some lovely diagrammatic data showing sitting positions and weight distribution that could be accessed by physios/patients/rehab teams to better manage and prevent ulcers.

It is not going to be cheap, however, at an expected cost of $599 as well as an ongoing monthly fee for access to the web data it collects.

The developers are crowd-sourcing their funding for this, a tactic that has become increasingly popular with medical projects. They are funding this via Indiegogo, but if you’re interested in seeing more crowd-sourced medical projects then MedStartr may be a good place to begin browsing.

And it looks like they have almost achieved their goal – at over $13k at the time of writing. So it seems as though other people out there think this could be a great idea too.

They haven’t produced proof of its efficacy as yet, but they hint at having the data and being in the process of analysing it. And they have a smart team of science geeks behind it so I don’t doubt it will be long before we see some hard evidence.


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