Prevention and Treatment of Secondary Complications

The Spinal Cord Injury Research Program at Mayo Clinic conducts clinical trials to prevent and treat secondary complications associated with spinal cord injury, such as shoulder strain from using a manual wheelchair and pressure ulcers.

Mobility and quality of life for manual wheelchair users

To help people using manual wheelchairs maintain the health of their shoulders, participants in this study wear motion sensors on their arms while they propel their wheelchairs, transfer in and out of their wheelchairs, and perform other activities that are required in their daily lives.

Motion is measured not only in the research laboratory but also in participants' homes and community environments using small, commercially available portable sensors.

Engineers in the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program use advanced methods to analyze the data, working toward answering big picture questions such as how people who are dependent on wheelchairs best avoid shoulder overuse problems while maintaining active and independent lifestyles.

Learn more or enroll.

Biofeedback to reduce the risk of shoulder overuse injury

In the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program's biofeedback intervention study to help prevent shoulder overuse injury, participants wear motion sensors while performing activities required in their daily lives, such as level and ramp propulsion, transferring in and out of a wheelchair, and lifting objects across their bodies.

Program researchers use the motion sensor data to create a biofeedback tool for participants to improve their techniques during the activities, with the ultimate goal of reducing participants' risk of shoulder problems caused by overuse.

Learn more or enroll.

Shoulder pathology in manual wheelchair users

In this study, researchers follow people living with spinal cord injury over time, measure the health of participants' shoulders, and compare measurements to those of a group of able-bodied individuals.

Both groups wear motion sensors during their daily routines so that some conclusions can be made about how people who maintain good shoulder health move compared with those who develop shoulder problems.

Shoulder pain and dysfunction is common among people who use wheelchairs, and this study provides important data that will lead to improved recommendations to prevent shoulder health decline.

Learn more or enroll.

Imaging of shoulder motion and impingement

Participants in this study receive advanced clinical imaging of their shoulders, including ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) and dynamic fluoroscopy.

Researchers in the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program use data from these imaging studies to determine the amount of space rotator cuff shoulder tendons have during activities such as wheelchair propulsion and reaching overhead while sitting in a wheelchair.

Measuring the tendons' available space while the arm is moving is important because narrowing of the space (impingement) is one of the main contributors to pain and shoulder dysfunction in people who use wheelchairs. Until now, this space has not been measured directly during daily tasks.

Learn more or enroll.

Smartphone interface pressure mapping to improve weight shift performance

The Spinal Cord Injury Research Program is developing a portable pressure mapping system for use during everyday life to prevent pressure ulcers.

Existing pressure mapping systems require patients to go to a clinic to evaluate their sitting pressures. The system being created by Mayo Clinic researchers interfaces with users' smartphones.

In this study, program researchers are quantifying the reliability and accuracy of the pressure map as it is used throughout the day and collecting pilot data to measure how well the system can modify users' behavior to improve pressure relief maneuvers and proper sitting techniques.

Learn more or enroll.

Development of a personal use seating pressure measurement system

This study, funded by the Department of Defense, is testing a portable pressure mapping system among veterans with spinal cord injuries.

Participating veterans provide feedback to Spinal Cord Injury Research Program engineers to improve the human factors design of a pressure mapping smartphone application.

The software application being tested not only gives users real-time pressure mapping of their seating systems, but also provides reminders to perform pressure relief maneuvers and alerts when pressure changes occur that might put users' skin at risk of ulceration.