While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have noted a 65% drop in diabetic foot amputations from 1996 to 2008, there are still over 100,000 people requiring amputation from a diabetic foot ulcer each year. New technology may bring this number down significantly in the coming years, as we look for better ways to detect ulcers early and prevent serious injury.
Diabetic Foot Ulcer Sensors
Canadian health company Orpyx Medical Technologies is getting ready to launch a new diabetic foot ulcer sensor at the American Podiatric Medical Association’s conference in Las Vegas later this month. Surrosense RX is designed to alert patients of an impending foot ulcer even before it breaks the skin. The product consists of eight force sensors embedded in a shoe insole, which captures raw data, analyzes it and converts it into a risk profile transmitted to a wristband. The user can actively monitor damage to the feet throughout the day. The data can also be sent to mobile phones and tablets. The system operates on a coin cell battery for more than six months.
Peripheral Neuropathy Sensors
Peripheral neuropathy, a frequent side effect of diabetes, leaves patients with a loss of feeling in their feet, making it difficult to tell when damage is being done to the feet. A complementary product the team is working on, SurroGait Rx, is another pressure-sensing insole that delivers a sensation to the back to indicate improper walking techniques that may lead to an ulcer. Improved gait and balance greatly decreases the risk of falling or developing a foot injury, so through the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, the user should be able to re-wire the brain to interpret the feeling on the back as a correction for the feet.
We’ve already talked about some of the great diabetic foot apps out there, but according to Medgadget, Orpyx is developing an iPhone/Android app which would work in tandem with the SurroSense and SurroGait systems. The whole package will be ready for launch sometime this year. The total cost of the SurroSense system (including two insoles, shoe pods, a wireless system, wristwatch and app) will be approximately $900, with new insoles required ($200 a piece) every six to eighteen months. There is no word yet as to whether insurance companies will pick up the tab for high-risk patients, but we can only hope!
Other Diabetic Foot Ulcer Technology
Minnesota’s Tillges Technologies has also created a wireless sensor (called PressureGuardian) to detect diabetic foot ulcers that is expected to launch in September. The PressureGuardian boot design does not appear to be practical for everyday use by diabetics — but rather, is a tool that can be used by podiatrists and orthopedists.
Boston-based Podimetrics is developing a diabetic foot ulcer sensor embedded into a bath mat. The system take 30 seconds to assess blood flow in the feet and will send alerts to the patients and/or their doctors. There is no word on when the product will be launched. So far, early tests show that technological monitoring devices “appear to be a simple and useful adjunct in the prevention of diabetic foot ulcerations,” reports the Diabetes Care journal.