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This Live-Mapping Mattress Is the Future of Bedsore Prevention

Because lying around in bed for extended periods should be the safest thing you can do.
January 8, 2014, 1:45pm

The MAP mat in action. GIF by author, via.

A hospital bed is a hell of a place to get healthy. With hospital-acquired illnesses and conditions running rampant, including limited exercise, horrific daytime soap operas, and agressive profit models that thrive on a full house, the transition between hospital bed and death bed can seem a balancing act that's just teetering on an auto-recline function. So if you're lying there fiddling with the buttons and resolve to survive the experience then you have another angle to consider: Bedsores.

Affecting 2.5 million American patients and leading to 60,000 deaths annually, bedsores (also known as Decubitus ulcers, or pressure ulcers) have also been cited in England to be almost as deadly as the MRSA superbug. Now, US hospitals are heeding the Mayo Clinic's advice and are taking to a new piece of snuggle tech to sandwich between patients and their hospital beds.

Wellsense's new Monitor Alert Project (MAP) is a responsive, monitor-connected mattress topper that maps out potential bedsore hotspots on a bedridden body. Displaying doppler-like visualizations on its dedicated monitor, the MAP mat helps caregivers forecast which areas of a patient's body are becoming prone to bedsores. This aids them in adjusting a patient to relieve areas of high pressure before pressure ulcers have an opportunity to occur.

Touted as the "first ever continuous bedside monitoring device," the system live-maps the areas of a patient's body that've been resting in the same place for too long. According to MAP's introduction video, "the pressure-sensing mat is an intelligent textile equipped with thousands of sensors."

MAP Solution - introduction video.

The concept is simple, and could mean a world of difference when it comes to mitigating the horribly shitty situation of hospital acquired conditions. In 2010 the Healthcare Management Council cited bedsores as "the most prevalent hospital-acquired condition... the second most expensive condition—costing a facility an average total of roughly $536,900 annually. A patient acquiring a bedsore required on average $9,200 in extra care."

While America gracelessly struggles through an overhaul of its awfully dysfunctional healthcare system—corrupted by drummed up costs, invented mental illness, and an unsustainable industry of middlemen insurance companies—is a future mattress going to be our savior? While it's no remedy for the diseases and ailments that primarily put patients in hospital beds, it's an important step in ostensibly reducing the amount of overtime patients will spend at the hospital, or at court with their doctors. As more hospitals continue to smarten their mattresses with such mats, my only question is how they're going to get out of paying for it.