Graduate Students Present at VA 21st Annual Research Day

May 20, 2019

Chih-Yun Paia​ ​, Hunter Moreraa​ ​, Sudeep Sarkara​ ​, Kimberly Hallb​ ​,Linda Cowanb​ ​, Peter A. Toyinbob​ ​, Matthew J.Petersona​,b​, & Dmitry Goldgofa

a​Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA Research Service, James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, Tampa, Florida, USA

The presentation resulted from the ongoing DOD-funded VA Research Study titled: An Automated Pressure Ulcer Monitoring System to Improve Pressure Ulcer Healing Outcomes for Veterans with SCI.

On May 16th at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa, many researchers gathered to present for National VA Research Week. “VA Research Week gives VA medical centers an opportunity to showcase the numerous achievements of VA researchers and the role they play in providing high-quality care for Veterans and advancing medical science.”[2] Creative displays, staff interactions, and informative seminars help educate Veterans, our elected representatives, and others about VA research and its impact on treating and preventing disease and disability, not only for Veterans, but all Americans. Among those presenting were two graduate students from the University of South Florida's Computer Science Department (CSE), Hunter Morera and Chih-Yun Pai.

The two PhD students from the CSE department presented their collaborative work on an automatic pressure ulcer monitoring system. “Spinal cord injury (SCI) affects over 288,000 people in the USA with approximately 17,700 new injuries each year. Persons with SCI are at extreme risk for developing pressure ulcers (PrUs) due to immobility, lack of sensation, moisture, and multiple other risk factors.” [1] Even with standardized training and methods, manual wound measurements are prone to user bias, not only between two nurses, but for the same nurse from one visit to another. “Due to high prevalence and cost of PrUs in SCI, an objective, valid, and reliable measurement of healing is needed to improve the consistency, quality, and effectiveness of clinical care.” [1] These measurements along with nurse observations are used to guide treatment, and effective intervention depends on reliable and valid measurement of PrU healing.

In collaboration with the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Research Service, we developed a computer-aided pressure ulcer monitoring system (PrUMS) to automate the manual measurements performed by healthcare providers without wound contact. PrUMS uses an Intel RealSense 3D camera mounted to a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet to obtain a 3D model of the wound. The algorithm uses both color and 3D geometric information to automatically segment the wound from the surrounding tissue and provides length, width, and depth measurements. The system has been shown to provide measurements within a 4mm difference of a wound care nurse’s manual assessment. Reliability testing of the device in the clinical environment is currently underway. In addition to VA Research Day, this project has been presented in part at Advanced Treatments & Technologies in Wound Care in London (2018), as well as presented at the SPIE conference for Medical Imaging in San Diego (2019).


[1] Peterson, M.J., Pai, C.-Y., Morera, H., Hall, K., Cowan, L., Toyinbo, P.A., Sarkar, S., & Goldgof, D. (2018). Automated pressure ulcer measurement for Veterans with spinal cord injury. In The World Conference on Advanced Treatments & Technologies in Wound Care (ATTWC2018), London, UK: Abstract Book [On-line], pg. 12. Available:

[2] "Research week is a great time to highlight our extraordinary research achievements and innovations."  Rachel B. Ramoni, D.M.D., Sc.D, Chief Research and Development Officer. Available:

Acknowledgements & Disclaimers

[1] The U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, 820 Chandler Street, Fort Detrick MD 21702-5014 is the awarding and administering acquisition office. This work was supported by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs under the Spinal Cord Injury Research Program – Investigator-Initiated Research under Award No. W81XWH-16-1-0393. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions and recommendations are those of the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Department of Defense.

[2] This material is the result of work supported with resources and the use of facilities, personnel, and patients at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, and the administering institution is the Tampa VA Research and Education Foundation. Contents do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.