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A smart seat cushion uses changes in air pressure to redistribute body weight and help prevent the painful ulcers caused by sitting for long periods of time in a wheelchair.

Prototype smart seat cushion. (Credit: University of Texas Arlington)

The same technology can be used to create prosthetic liners that adapt their shape to accommodate changes in body volume during the day and maintain a comfortable fit for the prosthesis. Poor prosthetic fit can cause skin damage and create sores in the residual limb of the wearer.

When a person sits on the cushion, a network of sensors generates a pressure map and identifies vulnerable areas where pressure relief is needed. Automated pressure modulation uses this data to reconfigure the seat cushion surface to offload and redistribute pressure from sensitive areas. Additionally, the seat cushion periodically changes the pressure profile to eliminate pressure buildup over time.

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