Purpose: Pressure ulcers (PUs) are prevalent among immobile bed or wheelchair-reliant individuals who experience prolonged sedentary positions. Pressure relief and frequent repositioning of body posture help to mitigate complications associated with PUs. Adherence with regular repositioning is difficult to maintain due to nursing labour shortages or constraints of in-home caregivers. Manual repositioning, transferring, and lifting of immobile patients are physically demanding tasks for caregivers. This review aimed to explore and categorize these devices, discuss the significant technical challenges that need addressing, and identify potential design opportunities. Materials and Methods: In this review, a literature search was conducted using PubMED, Science Direct, Google Scholar and IEEE Xplore databases including studies from 1995 until Feb 2023 with keywords such as pressure ulcer, assistive device, pressure relief, repositioning, transfer, etc. Both commercial and research-level devices were included in the search. Results: 142 devices or technologies were identified and classified into four main categories that were further subcategorized. Within each category, the devices were investigated in terms of their mechanical design, actuation methods, control strategies, sensing technologies, and level of autonomy. Limitations of current technologies are design complexity, lack of patient comfort, and a lack of autonomy requiring caregivers frequent intervention. Conclusions: Several devices have been developed to help with prevention and mitigation of PUs. There remain challenges that hinder the widespread accessibility and use of current technologies. Advancements in assistive technologies for pressure ulcer mitigation could lie at the intersection of robotics, sensors, perception, user-centered design, and autonomous systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1511-1530
Number of pages20
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2024


  • Healthcare
  • immobility
  • medical device autonomy
  • pressure ulcers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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