Jerusalem, Jan 28: Researchers have developed pressure-sensing washable 'smart' socks which, when paired with smartphones, can reduce foot ulcers in diabetic patients and may help prevent resulting amputations.
SenseGO, a machine-washable sock containing dozens of micro-fabricated pressure sensors, has been created by researchers at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical Centre in Israel.
With SenseGO, changes in pressure due to incorrect posture, anatomical deformation or ill-fitting shoes are registered as electrical signals that are relayed to a smartphone app, which in turn informs the patient of developing risk.
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage associated with the development of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Resulting from anatomical deformation, excessive pressure and poor blood supply, it affects over 130 million individuals worldwide, researchers said.
It is also the leading cause of amputation, costing the US economy alone more than USD 10 billion annually, they said. Diabetic patients are encouraged to get regular checkups to monitor for the increased pressure and ulceration that can eventually require amputation.
However, ulcers are only diagnosed after they occur, meaning that patients require healing time, which dramatically increases health-care costs. "This is a significant medical problem that affects the lives of millions. We thought there must be a way to avoid these wounds altogether," said Danny Bavli, the group's lead engineer.
"This is a classic mobile health approach. By giving patients and their families the tools they need to prevent the development of ulcers, we can dramatically reduce health care costs related to diabetes," said Yaakov Nahmias, director at BioDesign: Medical Innovation programme, created by the university.