Assessing the feasibility of subepidermal moisture to predict erythema and stage 1 pressure ulcers in persons with spinal cord injury: A pilot study

Marylou Guihan*, Barbara M. Bates-Jenson, Sophia Chun, Rama Parachuri, Amy S. Chin, Heather McCreath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) are at high risk for pressure ulcers (PrUs) throughout their lifetime due to decreased mobility, lack of sensation, and other physiological changes. The high prevalence and recurrence rates, and costs associated with PrUs in veterans with SCI indicate the need for a reliable and practical method of detecting early PrUs. Objective: To assess the feasibility of obtaining biophysical measures of sub-epidermal moisture (SEM) using a handheld dermal phase meter to predict PrUs. Design/methods: Prospective observational design. Thirty-four veterans at two VA SCI centers (Hines, Long Beach) received daily (n = 12) or weekly (n = 22) SEM and concurrent visual skin assessment (VSA) across nine anatomic locations for up to 6 weeks. Outcome measures: SEM, visual skin assessment (VSA), and stage I PrUs. Findings/results: SEM was lowest for normal skin (39.3 dermal phase units (DPU), SD = 12.6) and higher for erythema/stage 1 PrUs (40.8 DPU, SD = 10.4) across all anatomic sites. Buttocks SEM were different between normal skin (40.5 DPU, SD = 10.3) and erythema/stage1 PrUs (43.8, SD = 9.5). SEM taken at heels were lower across all skin conditions (normal skin 28.2 DPU; erythema/stage 1 PrUs 34.7 DPU). SEM was taken when generalized edema present was lower than without generalized edema. Conclusions: Preliminary results of using SEM to detect early PrU damage may translate from nursing home (NH) residents to persons with SCI. This study provides a foundation for a larger study to implement and assess SEM use as a method of prevention of PrUs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2012

Keywords

  • Health care costs
  • Outcomes
  • Physical
  • Physical examination
  • Pressure ulcer
  • Prevalence
  • Prevention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Staging
  • Wound care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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