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History of Project Sore Butts


Project Sore Butts can be traced back to the RESNA '92. Jean Anne Zollars organized an informal meeting at the Toronto conference to discuss experience bringing assistive technology into developing countries. This well attended meeting of about 40 participants included several people with direct experience working in developing countries including Peter Pfaelzer, Ralf Hotchkiss, and David Werner. It is this meeting that brought together the people and started the debate on the problems that would lead to Project Sore Butts.

Immediately following this meeting, in a Karaoke bar near the convention center, Mike Heinrich, Nigel Shapcott, Dave Cooper, and Andy Brule developed the concept of a low cost pressure sensor for use by individuals with SCI and their caregivers . The concept was developed into a prototype by Mike Heinrich and Nigel Shapcott immediately following the RESNA conference. This concept was submitted as a paper to the following RESNA Conference in Las Vegas, (via SIG 09), and was rejected.

SIG 17, (International Appropriate Technology), got started at the Las Vegas RESNA `93 conference with Dwight Johnson as the first Chair. The low cost pressure sensor was presented informally during the SIG 17 meeting time. This paper was finally accepted as a SIG 17 paper for the Nashville RESNA in 1994 and subsequently printed in full in the RESNA newsletter by editor Alexandria Enders.

In February 1994, at the International Seating Symposium (ISS) in Vancouver, Dave and Nigel initiated and organized a 2 day, (and one late night), post Symposium workshop to explore the idea of making a low cost cushion appropriate for manufacture in developing countries. About 20 enthusiastic people attended. (See Appendix). About 15 ideas for pressure management cushions were developed and modeled, but more importantly a second avenue of attack against pressure sores was initiated. Jean Anne and Ralf diverted the group to brainstorm potential avenues of education about pressure sores and their prevention. The concern that Jean Anne and Ralf had was that so many individuals were surviving the original SCI and then dying shortly thereafter of pressure sores. "Project Sore Butts" was initiated with 5 plans of action: 1) continued low cost cushion design; 2) educational poster development targeted to consumers and their primary care givers, (their families) during the first few months after injury ; 3) development of an information booklet directed toward consumers; 4) following the booklet a video would be developed that could be used by medical/rehab staff to educate consumers and their families; 5) general networking to raise the awareness of care givers and health care workers in areas of the world where there is a high incidence of pressure sores. Three months later in Nashville, Project Sore Butts was adopted as a SIG 17 activity and Julie Zimmer was elected to be SIG chair.

In February 1995, Peter organized a Sore Butts Competition meeting at the ISS in Pittsburgh. Alan Haddow took on the responsibility of organizing the cushion competition and Jess Gonzalez initially took on the job of organizing the poster competition. Immediately following this a second low cost cushion workshop was held at the residence of one Nigel Shapcott. It should be known that Nigel has been a consistent driving force throughout all the Sore Butts activities, (i.e., a pain in the butt). This workshop was attended by: Dave, Alan, Mike, Dave Savage, Jess Gonzalez, Diane Hobley, and Nigel. The purpose was to further the work identifying principles and techniques which might help to reduce the incidence of pressure sores amongst individuals with SCI in developing countries. The group met in two sessions, the survivors of the first session continuing the work in the second discussion session. It was a process of natural selection closely related to liver function. The product of this meeting was a cushion prototype and further plans for the cushion competition.

In June '95 at the Vancouver RESNA Peter and Nigel were elected SIG 17 co-chairs and several SIG 17 sessions were held to get input into the cushion and poster competitions. The competition chairs were confirmed, (Jess Gonzalez having resigned due to a job change), in Jan Bednarczk for posters and Alan Haddow for cushions. There was significant input to both competitions including Peter, Dwight, and Ralf's help with the test dummy design for the cushion competition.

During the next 12 months leading up to RESNA '96 in Salt Lake City much effort was expended in organizing the competitions, including a meeting of the poster group in San Francisco in November '95 and various fundraising activities. Jan got faculty and students at the Emily Carr Institute of Fine Art and Design in Vancouver involved in the poster competition. The poster committee consisting of Ralf, Jean Anne, Peter, and Steve McCrosky developed the design criteria for the posters. The students took on the competition as part of a major course beginning, in earnest, in early 1996. They submitting 22 posters to the competition. Judging by a large panel of international experts was held at ISS '96 in March in Vancouver with the 5 winning posters displayed in Salt Lake City in June.

Until Jan got involved Project Sore Butts had been piggy backing on other venues, namely ISS and RESNA. Since then involvement has grown tremendously. Jan's hard work and enthusiasm, (not to mention great nagging ability), has been a great boost to the project and so by RESNA '96 Project Sore Butts was going strong. The winning posters were prominently displayed near the registration desk, and the first cushion competition attracted a lot of participants and interest. Indeed, many people commented on the enthusiasm of the Sore Butts group and how much they contributed to the conference. Dave Cooper presented the paper on the cushion design from Pittsburgh ISS, (Nigel Shapcott wrote the paper). The cushions entered, (6 in all), were judged, (with great help from Geoff Taylor from VistaMedical). Sponsors for the cushion competition were Jay Medical, VistaMedical, and US Rehab. Total prizes of $1000 were awarded to Dave Brienza and Fred Ginpil by Alan Haddow at the RESNA Awards Luncheon.

Alan had developed a great logo for the cushion competition and during conversations, (incorporating an imploding television), it was decided to make a few badges to publicize the competition. To cut a long story short Nigel Shapcott tried to sell one to Steve Sprigle for $3. Steve said "Are you kidding, its worth at least $5" and so started a flurry of printing and manufacturing activity by Alan Haddow and Jess Gonzalez; and with Jan and Peter selling poster reprints, it resulted in a sizable working budget and some great PR for Project Sore Butts.

The plans for '97 include further presentations at the ISS in Pittsburgh and a second competition at RESNA '97. The educational posters have been extensively reviewed by partners in North America as well as around the globe and modifications to them are underway. Initiatives for translation and distribution of the educational posters continue. Alan and Nigel are working hard to get a complete history and reference library of relevant material on the project on a new webpage on the internet. Project members continue to explore avenues of funding for the second cushion design competition and poster distribution.

That's all for now folks!!


List of individuals attending the Sunny Hill Workshop in Vancouver on February 19th & 20th, 1994:

Marco V. Araya
San Jose, Costa Rica

Patti Brockman
Vancouver, WA, USA

Darcy Cooper
North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Mark Dilabio
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Bengt Engstrom (??)
Hyasselby, Sweden

Ralf Hotchkiss
Oakland, CA, USA

Joan Moffet
Penticton, BC, Canada

Nigel Shapcott
Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Jean Anne Zollars
Berkeley, CA, USA

Claudia E. Avila-Meneses

Cathy Cavey
Coquitlam, BC, Canada

David Cooper
North Vancouver, BC, Canada

Jayne Elkin
Hood River, OR, USA

Mike Heinrich
Niles, IL, USA

Yvette Joller
Abbotsford, BC, Canada

Sylvia Mosterman
Sardis, BC, Canada

K. Omar Talavera
Fremont, CA, USA and Nicaragua