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Sensors help to prevent foot ulcers

August 24th, 2020 / By: / What's New?

Footfalls & Heartbeats, a smart textiles developer, has created a knitted shoe upper which can measure the wearer’s gait. Photo: Footfalls & Heartbeats.

A variety of companies have developed technologies, such as smart socks and insoles, to help in the prevention of diabetic foot ulcers (DFU), IDTechEx reports. With these devices, persons with diabetes can take a more active role in the care of their feet, whether by modifying their behavior, or by the early detection of injuries.

Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc., Calgary, Alberta, Canada, developed the SurroSense Rx shoe insert consisting of a textile pressure senso that can monitor pressure levels in real time. This helps wearers modify walking behavior to avoid damage to their feet, which is particularly useful to those who have decreased sensation due to peripheral neuropathy. 

It has since updated with Orpyx® SI Sensory custom insoles, which incorporate sensors to monitor pressure, temperature and activity, and provides real-time audiovisual alerts and offloading instructions via smart phone. Randomized controlled trial showed an 86% reduction in DFU recurrence when the Orpyx SI technology were worn 4.5+ hours per day. 

Siren’s smart socks have integrated sensors to monitor temperature changes throughout the day to detect early signs of injury. This is because inflammation, one of the early signs of injury, is accompanied by a rise in skin temperature. The company is based in San Francisco, Calif.

New York, N.Y.-based Bonbouton also has smart insoles that monitor the temperature changes. Their product detects temperature differences between the wearer’s feet; a large difference signals decreased blood flow in the foot with the higher temperature. This is cause for concern, as ischemia is another cause of DFUs. 

The majority of pressure ulcers are entirely preventable. The above technologies have the potential to save patients years of poor health and the healthcare systems billions of dollars per year, the IDTechEx report says. Additionally, the prevention of DFUs can have significant knock-on effects, such as the prevention of lower-limb amputations. Over 85 percent of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations are preceded by a DFU.

Smart, knitted shoe upper measures gait

Nottingham, U.K.-based Footfalls & Heartbeats, a smart textiles developer, has created a knitted shoe upper which can measure gait in a person either walking or running. The shoes were made on a Santoni X machine and knitted in less than 12 minutes per shoe, says company founder Simon McMaster. 

“No embedded electronics, just knitted textile sensors that measure pressure and then relay that true, on-body movement to a UI of choice,” McMaster says. 

Footfalls & Heartbeats also worked closely with the University of Nottingham, U.K., on smart socks that measure both pressure and blood flow in the feet via optical sensors embedded in the socks. The company has developed a process for manufacturing smart fabric which uses nano-scale interactions within the textile to make the fabric itself the sensor, avoiding the need for wires or miniature electronics.

IMAGE: Footfalls shoe

CAPTION: Footfalls & Heartbeats, a smart textiles developer, has created a knitted shoe upper which can measure the wearer’s gait. Photo: Footfalls & Heartbeats. 

TAGS: pressure sores, socks for pressure sores, shoes for pressure sores, DFU prevention, pressure sore prevention diabetic socks, smart socks