University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic Institute
410-448-2500 or 1-888-453-7626

The Rehabilitation Research Center at Kernan

Rehabilitation Technology

Pressure Mapping

Pressure mapping makes use of a computerized pressure-sensitive mat to quantify pressure under a seating surface; it is commonly used by clinicians to determine the suitability of a wheelchair cushion and by researchers investigating support surfaces, risk factors for ulceration, and ulcer prevention protocols.

Pressure maps can come in all sizes, but those most commonly used are the thin mats preferred by seating specialists. These mats are composed of a matrix of small sensors and a cover. When a person sits on this mat, the sensors gauge the pressure being exerted at individual locations on the thigh or buttock. This data is transferred to a computer where a clinician analyzes it.

Goals for Treatment

  • To objectively quantify the pressure under boney prominences in the wheelchair and identify the best cushion surface for the patient.
  • To document proof for the insurance company that a certain cushion is medically necessary.
  • To demonstrate the effectiveness of a particular type of pressure relief to the patient.
  • To identify whether or not the seating system is a factor in the patient's development of a pressure sore.

Patients with the following conditions may be candidates for pressure mapping:

  • Patients with a sacral or ischial pressure ulcer
  • Patients at high risk for skin breakdown
  • Patients who need further education regarding pressure relief and prevention or healing of pressure sores