New Device May Prevent Bed Sores

Pressure ulcers, commonly known as bed sores or pressure sores, are a prevalent danger for nursing home patients or those who use wheelchairs. Each year, approximately 60,000 Americans die from complications related to bed sores.

Bed sores occur when an area of skin receives limited blood flow because it is placed under pressure for an extended period of time. The first sign that a pressure ulcer is forming is typically visual, such as color change in the skin (skin may appear reddened). However, a new handheld, wireless device made with NASA technology can help detect bed sores earlier, before they are visible to the plain eye.

According to researchers, the Sub-Epidermal Moisture Scanner (SEM) can detect bed sores up to 10 days earlier than the traditional method of visual inspection, by reading moisture levels under the skin's surface. The moisture level is an early physical indication of pressure ulcer formation that can lead to infection.

Nurses can simply take the SEM device and place it in the areas on the patient's body that are most prone to get bedsores, to measure whether there is tissue damage. Early detection is key, because it can prevent the condition from progressing into a later stage.

The biometric device is currently available in Europe, and is undergoing further testing to hopefully receive FDA clearance for use in the US sometime this year.


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