Researchers at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute in the University of Auckland have created a portable technology that senses temperature changes to detect feet complications among persons with type 2 diabetes.

The research team, led by Suranga Nanayakkara, an associate professor at the university, recently received funding under the Research Activation Grant of the government’s Health Research Council to try out the “low-cost” device on patients at a podiatry clinic in Auckland. 

WHAT IT DOES

Based on the university’s press statement, FootSense is meant for home-based monitoring to spot early signs of foot complications. It measures irregularities in temperature, which according to research, may indicate compromises in blood flow, leading to foot ulcers or worst, the need for amputation.

The device was originally developed by Dr Samitha Elvitigala when he was still an undergraduate student in Sri Lanka. Its earlier iteration was improved to scan and map temperature differences via a platform where patients can stand.

WHY IT MATTERS

It is “crucial” for people with type 2 diabetes to undergo regular foot checking, the ABI stressed. In 2020, about 8% of the adults in New Zealand were affected by the disease. Data from the New Zealand Medical Journal and the Ministry of Health shows that Māori people are 65% more likely to undergo major amputation.

The device was created so that patients, especially those at risk of or suffering from foot complications, won’t have to go out and travel more for getting their feet checked.

MARKET SNAPSHOT

In the US, there are foot devices that monitor signs of diabetic foot ulcers. Notable products are the smart sock by Siren and Podimetrics’ SmartMat. The latter was deployed in a study last year that showed daily foot temperature monitoring can result in lower rates of hospitalisation and foot ulcer recurrence in high-risk patients. 

In other news, Dr Elvitigala created several technologies for the feet for his recently defended doctoral thesis. One is GymSoles, a smart insole that renders real-time feedback on the source of pressure to help users do correct exercises, such as squats and weightlifting. Another invention is StressFoot, which was designed to detect stress via foot pressure and motion.

ON THE RECORD

“Patients who come to the clinic will get their feet scanned, and we can use that data to improve the efficacy of the device. The next step would be thinking about how we can make them available – how to manufacture them in an affordable way,” Dr Elvitigala said.

“We hope in the long run our StressFootSense device will improve health equity in New Zealand by allowing for at-home monitoring that will, in turn, allow for early intervention [a]nd avoid the need the hospitalisation and surgery,” he added.

This content was originally published here.