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What’s really important in an effective mattress?

Supporting the Human Form on Engineering Principles

The following information comprises excerpts from the full study. Enquiries for more information pertaining to these studies should be directed to Ergonomic Life International

What beds need to do

Associate Professor Nicholas Haritos, Reader in Civil Engineering, Melbourne University stated: “No mattress/bed construction with a flat surface and near uniform firmness can by itself be capable of supporting the human body in a orthopedically correct (zero stress) posture.”

Hypothesis

  • No significant improvements in relation to supportive capabilities or pressure reducing qualities have been achieved in the bedding industry worldwide.
  • Based on his extensive experience as a Structural Engineer, Mario Piraino deduced that for a bed to correctly support the human form it would need to be designed based on proven Engineering principles.
  • Simple parallels can be made against the construction of a bridge where the span is subjected to significant stresses and must be engineered in a particular manner to reduce the stresses subsequently preventing the bridge from collapsing.
  • Similarly the hips and shoulders act as the pylons of the bridge and the spine behaves similarly to the span of the bridge absorbing significant stresses.
  • Inserting a pylon in the centre of the bridge will significantly reduce the stresses on the span. By introducing ‘variable support’ along the body between the hips and shoulders will in the same manner significantly reduce the stresses on the spine.
  • This hypothesis illustrates that the construction of the mattress requires varying degrees of ‘introduced support’ to match the weight and shape profile of the individual, posing the question, ‘How much support is required?’
  • Associate Professor Nicholas Haritos from a leading Melbourne University conducted a study on the relationship between bed construction and the human form.

Testing Protocols

  • The study was conducted on the recognition of varying weight and shape of the human form, particularly noting the region of Hips (Fh), Lumbar (Fw) and Shoulders (Fsh).
  • It was apparent that the supportive materials used in the mattress/bed construction must be able to:
    1A: Support the body continuously along the many curves of the body with a force equal to and opposite to the weight of the body at each point (Newton’s 3rd Law).
    2B: The shape taken by the compressed mattress must correspond exactly to the shape of the particular body that is being supported if we are to prevent distortion.

Tests Result Summary

  • The report observations demonstrate the variation in support between the shoulders and waist is in the vicinity of 600% highlighting the variations required between the main bridging points, i.e. hips and shoulders.

Supporting the hypothesis Professor Haritos comments:

“No mattress/bed construction with a flat surface and near uniform firmness can by itself be capable of supporting the human body in a near orthopedically correct (zero stress) posture.”

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