Computer modeling of prophylactic dressings: An indispensable guide for healthcare professionals

Amit Gefen, Paulo Alves, Sue Creehan, Evan Call, Nick Santamaria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article is a review of the work conducted and published to date in employing computer finite element (FE) modeling for efficacy research of prophylactic dressings in the context of preventing pressure injuries. The authors strive to explain why FE modeling is essential in establishing the efficacy of prophylactic dressings, as it is in the development and evaluation of any other preventive intervention. In particular, FE modeling provides insights into the interactions between dressing structures and weight-bearing body tissues (including susceptible anatomical locations such as the sacrum and heels of supine patients). Modeling further facilitates reliable visualization and quantification of the mechanical loads that develop in superficial and deep tissues as a result of body weight or external forces based on known physical principles. The modeling then helps to determine how these tissue loads are mitigated using prophylactic dressings of different designs, structures, and material compositions and rate performances of existing or new products. All of the work published so far on modeling the modes of action of prophylactic dressings has focused on the Mepilex Border dressing (Mölnlycke Health Care AB, Gothenburg, Sweden). Published work has revealed several key design features that are pivotal for obtaining successful clinical outcomes, namely, (1) a multilayered alternating-stiffness structure with embedded anisotropy; (2) a minimal friction coefficient at the external surface of the dressing; and (3) low impact of fluid retention on the mechanical behavior of the dressing. These features, their importance, and the methods of identifying their roles in the modes of action of effective prophylactic dressings are detailed here. Computer models clearly inform the process of engineering prophylactic dressings, but they may also provide guidance in clinical use, contribute to assessing technologies and products, support purchasing, and describe product endurance. As the methods of FE modeling of dressings improve, simulations may soon incorporate the simultaneous complex interactions among tissue distortion, heat transfer in tissue, and prophylactic dressings to inform patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S4-S13
JournalAdvances in Skin and Wound Care
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2019


  • Biomechanics
  • Computer modeling
  • Finite element modeling
  • Mechanical load
  • Pressure injury
  • Pressure ulcer
  • Prevention
  • Prophylaxis
  • Tissue deformation


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