The University of Southampton
Engineering

Research project: Towards a mechanistic understanding of skin tears in the elderly population

Currently Active: 
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Physics-based modelling of skin tears in aged skin.

Project Overview

Between 1984 and 2009 the UK population aged 65 and over increased by 1.7 million people. By 2034, it is projected that 23% of the UK population will be 65 and over. Together with pressure sores, skin tears are a major problem in the elderly and chronically ill and it is estimated they cost £1.2 billion annually to the NHS. They arise by minor shearing, friction or blunt trauma. This problem is clinically addressed by preventing the likelihood of minor trauma but a biophysical understanding of skin tears that could lead to efficient preventive solutions is still lacking.

The goal of this research is to derive a mechanistic understanding of skin tears in the elderly from the development of an anatomically- and physics-based computational model of the skin. The interplay of mechanical and structural properties of the skin will be explored via the use of a multi-layer skin model and a novel phase-field constitutive model of tissue fracture. Uncertainties associated with inter- and intra-individual biophysical properties will be accounted for by using probabilistic finite element and meta-modelling techniques.

Related research groups

national Centre for Advanced Tribology at Southampton (nCATS)

Staff

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