Implementing local cooling to increase skin tolerance to ischemia during normal seating in people with spinal cord injury

Yi Ting Tzen, David M. Brienza, Patricia E. Karg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of local cooling in reducing reactive hyperemia after ischemia at the ischial tuberosities for people with spinal cord injury (SCI) during normal seating. The degree of the reactive hyperemic response is indicative of the extent of cellular stress caused by the ischemia. We hypothesized that reactive hyperemic skin blood flow (SBF) responses will be lower when local cooling is implemented by the wheelchair seat cushion. This study used a repeated measures design, and each subject underwent two conditions: normal seating with temperature control ‘on’ (cooling) and ‘off’ (non-cooling) for 30 min. Twenty-three participants with traumatic SCI were recruited. SBF and skin temperature were collected before, during and after seating. SBF signals were processed with short-time Fourier analyses to examine the underlying vascular control mechanisms, including the following (corresponding frequency bands): metabolic (0.0095–0.02 Hz), neurogenic (0.02–0.05 Hz), and myogenic (0.05–0.15 Hz) spectral densities. Our results showed that with cooling, skin temperature decreased (range −0.4 ~ −3.1 °C, p = 0.002), and reactive hyperemia parameters (normalized peak SBF and perfusion area) were reduced (p = 0.02, p = 0.033, respectively). In addition, changes in normalized peak SBF (non-cooling – cooling) was moderately correlated with changes in normalized metabolic and neurogenic spectral densities. Our findings suggested that local cooling has a positive effect on reducing the cellular stress caused by ischemia during normal seating. Metabolic and neurogenic SBF control mechanisms may play a minor role. Further exploration of the effect of temperature control on pressure injury prevention is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-178
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Tissue Viability
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Microclimate control
  • Pressure injury
  • Skin blood flow
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Dermatology


Dive into the research topics of 'Implementing local cooling to increase skin tolerance to ischemia during normal seating in people with spinal cord injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this