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Forecast Good For Low Pressure Points


15 March 2002

Forecast Good For Low Pressure Points

Hospital patients may be resting more easily in their beds, thanks to research by Vita New Zealand and specialist hospital equipment company, Howard Wright Ltd that has seen new hospital mattress technology attracting keen international interest as well as snapping up local sales.

Successful development of a low pressure point mattress came about through determining the occurrence of pressure sores. The joint venture research was part funded by Technology New Zealand’s TBG scheme (Technology for Business Growth), part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology

Bruce Moller, Chief Executive of New Plymouth-based Howard Wright, says US and European surveys show between 10% and 12%of all acute care patients suffer from pressure sores and that treatment costs can be significant, running to tens of thousands of dollars, depending upon the advancement of the sore.

“Prevention provides significant savings to healthcare providers. One cause of pressure sores is the cut off of blood flow to the skin's capillaries causing the skin tissue to eventually breakdown,” says Mr Moller.

Critical to the project was Vita’s acquisition of a German pressure mapping system, Ergocheck; a computer based system with 684 individual measuring points distributed across the testing surface.

Each one of these highly sensitive sensors determines the pressure between the person and mattress and measured values are then processed and printed out graphically. Pressure maps display high-pressure locations, the size of high-pressure peaks and the average pressure placed on the body.

Research technologist, Kate McMahon undertook an extensive training programme on the physical properties of polyurethane foams, mattress construction and use of Ergocheck equipment.

Mike Sexton, Vita Managing Director, says having an in-house researcher focussed on the project enabled the company to establish a P-index performance measuring system - a statistical method designed as a single repeatable measure of surface performance based on the magnitude, number and size of all peak pressures under the body.

“This enabled us to achieve a range of low pressure point mattresses, and during the course of the project we have completed a full range of healthcare mattresses for Howard Wright, which are currently being sold both domestically and internationally,” he says.

“The research project has also given Vita an added bonus, in improving our current range of healthcare mattresses and developing two new ones for the domestic retail market.”


For more information:

- Bruce Moller, Howard Wright Ltd 06 751 0542 Ext. 701, or 021 169 5279

- Mike Sexton, Vita , 09 828 5169

- Lins Kerr, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, 04 917 7804, 025 962 581.


Technology New Zealand is a set of government-funded business support schemes which provide funding to support R&D projects in business.

Around $35 million is available each year to help companies develop new products or processes, build human capital within businesses and provide access to information and expertise.

Technology New Zealand is part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

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