Published on 5 October 2018

Pressure-sensing technology connected to a smartwatch can raise alert.

A newly available smart insole for shoes could prevent people with diabetes from developing diabetic foot ulcers.

Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University have tested the early warning system on clinical trial participants with diabetes who were at a high risk of developing foot ulcers.

Following tests they found wearing the insoles could reduce cases of foot ulcers from developing or recurring by more than 70%.

The smart shoe insole system, SurroSense Rx, works by whenever the pressure sensing inserts detect clinically dangerous foot pressure, a vibratory and audio alert is transmitted wirelessly to a smartwatch prompting the device user to offload the pressure from a particular region of their foot.

The smart insole and smartwatch system

Participants in the trial learned from these warnings which activities or times of day were most problematic for them – such as while driving – and which areas of their feet were the most prone to harm.

The trial volunteers could use the information to change their behaviour and immediately relieve the pressure, thereby avoiding harmful damage to their feet.

A person using a smartwatch.

Professor Neil Reeves with the smart insole

Neil Reeves, Professor of Musculoskeletal Biomechanics and previously DRWF-funded researcher, led the study, working with the research team at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Foot ulceration is a serious health concern for people with diabetes and a major burden for global healthcare systems.

“As part of this longitudinal clinical trial, we have shown the great potential of smart technology for reducing the incidence of foot ulcers in diabetes patients.

“Studies of this nature are very challenging, but invaluable for advancing the treatment and management of people with diabetes.”

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, is a common complication for people with diabetes, where the loss of sensation caused by nerve damage can make it difficult for people to feel when their foot is at risk of skin breakdown.

Foot ulcers can fail to heal and become infected over time and around 30% of patients with a diabetic foot ulcer may be at risk of lower limb amputation.

The findings of the project were presented to the Diabetic Foot Study Group at the meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes recently in Berlin.

The research group was also presented at the meeting with the prestigious Paul Wilson Brand Repetitive Stress Award by the Diabetic Foot Study Group.

Professor Reeves added: “Our team of researchers and clinicians are delighted that this important work has been recognised through a prestigious clinical award.”

If you have a wound which does not heal see your podiatrist immediately.

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