Pressure-modulating insoles designed to prevent diabetic foot ulcers
Because diabetics often lack sensation in their feet, they may not instinctively shift foot pressure as needed, potentially leading to very serious skin ulcers. A set of experimental new insoles were created that problem in mind, as they shift the pressure for the wearer.
The dual-layer removable devices are being developed at the University of Texas at Arlington, by a team led by Muthu Wijesundara.
Utilizing integrated sensors, the insoles continuously monitor the loading pattern on the bottom of the feet. In order to avoid prolonged pressure in any one area, the insoles periodically (and automatically) alter that pattern by selectively pumping fluid in or out of a network of cells spread throughout each unit.
The technology can be adapted for use by wearers of a wide weight range.
As an added bonus, the insoles can also serve as a substitute for a total contact cast – which is utilized to evenly distribute weight across the sole of the foot while ulcers are healing – plus they can be used to analyze the wearer's walking gait.
"Diabetes is a leading cause of amputation worldwide, and there is a major role that technology can play to prevent its devastating effects," said Wijesundara. "We are now one step closer to finding a solution to reduce risk of complications related to diabetic foot ulcers."
A pilot study is now being planned, which will be conducted in partnership with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Source: University of Texas at Arlington