Early Detection of Pressure Injury Using a Forensic Alternate Light Source

Heather Hettrick, PT, PhD, CWS, CLT-LANA, CLWT; Cheryl Hill, PT, PhD, DPT; Patrick Hardigan, PhD


Wounds. 2017;29(8):222-228. 

In This Article


Because ALS utilizes different wavelengths than white light, it can reveal acute trauma and interstitial bleeding of the skin that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. Crime scene investigators and forensic science utilizes ALS readily, but it has only recently been utilized as a tool in medicine. As a skin and wound assessment tool, ALS appears to be beneficial in identifying early destructive tissue changes as well as sites of previous injury much sooner than just using white or ambient light and the naked eye. The ability to witness negative or deleterious tissue changes before visual and physical manifestations appear on the skin is a breakthrough in pressure ulcer detection.

The ALS device has the potential to be used as a quick screening tool to assess the overall health of a patient's skin. It is well established that early detection of tissue trauma can lead to better outcomes for patients while reducing health care costs. Alternate light sources provide a noninvasive approach to early detection and intervention of pressure ulcers, resulting in improved health outcomes and quality of life for patients while potentially saving substantial resources spent on managing pressure ulcers. Alternate light sources may prove invaluable in clinical practice for detecting early tissue trauma that is time efficient, user friendly, and cost effective.