Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have developed shoe technology that could prevent the development of diabetic foot ulcers.
People with diabetic neuropathy experience numbness in their legs and feet and are often unable to detect and respond to stress-related pain by adjusting the load on their feet.
This can lead to open sores or ulcers, which can become infected and require amputation.
Muthu Wijesundara is the Principal Investigator and Head of the Division of Biomedical Technologies at the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute.
He and members of his team received a patent for a dual-layered shoe sole that automatically shifts pressure to the bottom of the foot
Using fluid-filled cells, the insole provides variability in the loading patterns of a person’s foot to reduce prolonged pressure on a given area.
The insole can self-adjust without patient assistance and is designed to fit people of different weights.
“There is nothing the user has to do to change the gait pattern to relieve pressure. This sole will do itself,” says Wijesundara.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of amputation worldwide.
Foot ulcers affect approximately 15% of diabetics.
“Unfortunately diabetic foot ulcers are quite common and unfortunately they are common enough to become total amputation,” said wound care specialist Dr. Maxine Theriot.
Dr. Theriot says diabetic foot ulcers can quickly lead to complications, sometimes in as little as three days, due to the patient’s already weakened immune system.
“Individuals are strongly encouraged to check their feet daily if they have diabetes, especially if you already have some sort of foot abnormality,” Theriot said.
Wijesundara’s team is working with UT Southwestern Medical Center on a pilot study funded by the National Institutes of Health to test early prototypes.