On the website Disabled-World I found the common reasons for bed sores:

Shearing and Friction: If a bedridden person is pulled or dragged from his or her bed it causes friction and stretches the skin muscles. Blood circulation of the skin gets marred which causes the damage.

Moisture: Skin is very sensitive at this stage. Perspiration, bed-wetting or feces leads to furthermore chances of bed sores.

Lack of Movement: People, who have been bedridden for a prolonged period of time due to severe medical conditions, bear the brunt. Being in a same position without any movement is one of the main reasons for bed sores. 

Lack of Sensation: An injury which leaves you without sensation is another reason for bed sores. This lack of sensation does not allow you to determine the immensity of the pressure applied on the skin.

And here are Preventive Measures:

  • To enhance circulation provide skin massages if possible.
  • Always keep the skin dry because moisture is disastrous for the skin.
  • Apply vitamin E oil all over the body.
  • A rich and healthy diet of vitamins like A, B, C, E and zinc is very important.
  • Avoid meat and include fiber in your diet.

Then I found this list of details to think about when constructing the pants, What to Look for When Purchasing Adaptive Clothing:

  • For some conditions, particular with the elderly, it is essential that the materials used are not going to be abrasive to the skin.
  • Dignity is important, make sure the designs bear this in mind. Generous overlapping at the rear with night and day gowns and high backed waistbands for those in wheelchairs etc.
  • The fabrics that are used need to be of the highest quality and therefore able to withstand rigorous cleaning and usage.
  • Check where fasteners are located so that undue pressure is not applied to tender areas of the body which can then produce sores etc.
  • Garments that hang near wheelchair brakes or wheels, can be very hazardous.
  • Split shoulders allow dressing without having to place the clothing over the wearers head as the garment can be donned around the person.
  • Adaptive clothing should benefit the wearer both physically and psychologically, quality clothing often makes us feel good about ourselves, promoting a sense of wellbeing.
  • Feels like normal clothes – Any disabled or mobility Garments should fit as well as any regular piece of clothing (albeit usually a bit wider in certain areas to stow away medical enhancements). But they should feel natural and comfortable for the wearer.
  • Looks like normal clothes – There is a trend in medical wear for more fashionable disabled clothing and garments. This is true in graduated compression stockings, undergarments and swimwear for ostomates, and naturally, adaptive clothing. The truth is for millions of those with medical needs, the inspiration and innovation from bold entrepreneurs has produced products that makes wearing medical clothing fashionable as well as functional. Medical enhancements to adaptive clothing should be discreet modifications; lightweight additions that do not bulk the garments, and allow unique enhancements like zippers to be easily tucked away and hidden.
  • Built to last medically and fashionably – Adaptive clothing goes through most of the same processes as any standard garment, but simply adding zippers is not enough. A good adaptive garment will have medical benefits that last as long as the life of the garment, so all adaptive clothes will go through many additional processes in development to enhance medical uses and to produce a durable, lasting piece of clothing.
  • Broad Range of Sizes – People come in all shapes and sizes, so clothing should come in all shapes and sizes. For the best mobility and style, the perfect size adaptive clothes will make all the difference.

I am taking into account these reasons and measures when choosing fabrics to tests, and when planning the amount of seams and details. I am looking into fabrics that have a lot of stretch, and also repel moisture. Furthermore I want the fabrics to have some unique texture on the outside surface that would be appealing and attractive to touch, and will promote sensing that texture by the wearer and by others. Basically I want to promote touching one’s legs.

The focus in designing these pants is on adding movement to the body through alternating air pressure inside the pillows, while taking away from the wearer the need to remember to move oneself. The constant easy move will help prevent the forming of the pressure ulcers

A few days ago I met Reut who was injured 12 years ago in a jumping accident while at a party to discuss with her these pants. I learned that Reut is not suffering from pressure ulcers but was encouraging and had good insights for me to take into account when designing pants for people who are bound to wheelchairs.

Reut comments:

– When sitting the pants become shorter, so it is better to make the pants slightly longer than regular length.

– The knees are an area in the body that becomes colder, and perhaps should have an extra layer.

– The waistband would be comfortable if it would have a large elastic, somewhat similarly to the ones used on pregnancy pants to support the shape of the belly, that tends to round out from long sitting posture.

– Make the garment and the pump as easy to use and light as possible.

Reut also put me in touch with three other women who are using wheelchairs. So far I managed to get in touch with Dana who spoke with me over the phone.

Dana also is not suffering from pressure ulcers and was injured a year ago. She pointed out that pants which move the body are less needed for people who suffers from Paraplegia as they could move their body using their hands. She said that she thinks that this kind of solution would be more beneficial for someone who is Tetraplegia and could not move their limbs by themselves at all.

When discussing the use of such pants further Dana said that these pants could be actually very good for traveling as when people travel they move through different kinds of chairs and their supporting cushions usually do not fit all of the short term wheelchairs and car sits.

For my next steps I am going to reach out to more people who are bound to wheelchairs and learn more about their needs. I want to hear more opinions and perspective about these pants.

I am going to receive Roho cushions that I’ve ordered from ebay, and will cut them into shape in order to incorporated the cushion inside the pants. I need to test their connection with the pump which I ordered as well. The pump is an off the shelve item that has an awful medical – hospital feel to it so I want to redesign it as well.

After making the first two samples I realized that the air cushion and connection to the pump should be removable. The new pattern for the next sample will have a pocket insert in which the air cushion/pillows will fit into. This way I could make a range of designs and the pants would be washable and fashionable. I need to source new materials that would have greater stretch, look for ways to finish the waistline, perhaps with lycra, and work further on design options.