More than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. People with diabetes are at risk for nerve damage in their feet, and when not managed it can lead to ulcers, sores, tissue damage and in some cases amputation. Thanks to a new technology found in a pair of “smart socks,” amputation and feet complications could become a thing of the past.
The University Of Arizona Department Of Surgery’s Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance is among organizations that have been awarded more than $2 million in research grants from the Qatar National Research Fund to study the use of smart socks for those with diabetes. Integrated with fiber optics and sensors to monitor temperature, pressure and joint angles in the feet, the socks will alert both medical professional and wearers of any growing concerns.
People with diabetes are at risk for foot ulcers and often lose the sensation of pain. They may not be aware of developing sores. Smart socks would not only warn of complications but can be used to improve balance and gait in diabetes patients with neuropathy.
“The socks measure three parameters critical in the management of diabetes: temperature, pressure and joint angles in the foot,” said Biomedical engineer Bijan Najafi, a UA associate professor of surgery and director of iCAMP. "For the first time, we have the technology to measure all three parameters simultaneously and during daily activity to help us identify the area of the foot most likely to develop an ulcer."
Researchers project that the smart socks will be available to the public by 2019. Until then, here are some helpful tips for keeping your feet happy and healthy: