Type 2 Diabetes – New Devices Are Being Used to Monitor Pressure Continuously in Foot Ulcers

Diabetic foot ulcers are a serious complication of Type 2 diabetes. Neuropathy, one of the long-term complications of diabetes that affect the nerves in your feet, may affect your ability to sense major trauma. If left unchecked the foot ulcer can result in bone infection and the need for limb amputation.

One diabetic during his or her lifetime has a 25 percent risk of developing the condition. Of those 25 percent of diabetics who do develop foot ulcers, half will need hospitalization and 20 to 25 percent will need amputation. To put it another way, 80 percent of non-traumatic foot and leg amputations are due to diabetes. In the United States alone more than 82,000 people lose limbs to diabetes each year, and it is a leading cause worldwide.

Scientists in Italy and at the University of Arizona in Tucson, United States, have devised a method for continuous monitoring of pressure in diabetic foot ulcers. As reported in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology in February of 2017, the system consists of a pressure sensor made up of what is known as a smart textile. The textile is attached with a stretchable band which collects information and transmits it to a telephone. The collected information is then relayed to the diabetic’s doctor.

Sixty-eight percent of Type 2 diabetics live for five years or more after amputation.

According to the University of Arizona Medical School, the device will…

  • measure and analyze pressure, temperature, and gait,
  • be accurate for people walking on a variety of surfaces,
  • improve accuracy compared with other devices,
  • be mobile and easily washable,
  • deliver alerts when necessary,
  • improve the diagnosis of foot problems at home,
  • lower the risk of falling in older people.

The University of Arizona is also developing a smart insole. This device measures…

  • pressure,
  • foot position,
  • acidity or alkalinity,
  • blood flow, and
  • skin temperature.

It uses these measurements to lower weight-bearing where the ulcer is located, allowing it and other wounds to heal. Information from the smart sole allows doctors to monitor wound healing and make adjustments accordingly. It alerts health care providers as to any dead tissue hindering healing.

When foot ulcers are diagnosed, the first treatment is to relieve pressure from the ulcer with orthotic devices. The wound is…

  • cleaned with saline (salt water), and
  • dressings need to be changed daily.

Debridement becomes necessary when dead tissue prevents healing. Antibiotic therapy is used for soft tissue or bone inflammation and infection.

To protect your feet, you need to inspect them before and after exercise. If you have neuropathy, be aware you may not be able to feel the rubbing of a poorly fitted shoe or even a pebble in your shoe.