Responsive insole could prevent diabetic foot ulcers

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Diabetic foot ulcers could be prevented with patented footwear technology developed in Texas that relieves pressure on areas of the feet that experience high stress. 

diabetic foot ulcers
Image credit: The University of Texas at Arlington

The team is led by Muthu Wijesundara, principal research scientist and head of the Division of Biomedical Technologies at the University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute (UTARI). Their dual-layer insole apparatus for diabetic foot lesion prevention is based on technology developed in partnership with the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

Due to numbness in their legs and feet, people with diabetes are often unable to detect and respond to stress-related pain by adjusting their foot loading. This can result in repeated stress to high-pressure foot regions such as the heel or toes, and can worsen blisters, sores and ulcers to the point of severe tissue loss, amputation and even life-threatening infection.

“Diabetes is a leading cause of amputation worldwide, and there is a major role that technology can play to prevent its devastating effects,” Wijesundara said in a statement. “We are now one step closer to finding a solution to reduce risk of complications related to diabetic foot ulcers.”

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According to the team, its removable shoe insole relieves stress by periodically regulating and redistributing pressure across all areas of the foot. Using fluid-filled cells, the dual-layer apparatus provides variability in a person's foot-loading patterns to reduce prolonged pressure to any given area.

The insole can automatically adjust and is designed to accommodate people of various weights. It can also be substituted for a total contact cast during the healing of a foot ulcer and can provide gait and ground force analysis.

Wijesundara’s team is working with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center on a pilot study funded by the National Institutes of Health to test initial prototypes.

Eileen Clements, UTARI interim executive director commented: “We are excited to witness the evolution of Dr. Wijesundara’s preventive care device and eager to see its continued development and the potential it may have to improve the quality of life for many people with diabetes.”