Investigators at the University of Michigan have created a shoe insole that is customized to help diabetic patients greatly reduce the friction and pressure placed on foot sores.
Investigators at the University of Michigan have created a shoe insole that is customized to help diabetic patients greatly reduce the friction and pressure placed on foot sores.As a result, the researchers argue, the insole helps prevent foot ulcers and calluses from progressing to limb-threatening infections. “If you can reduce friction and shear, you can get a better healing of the ulcer,” designer Ammanath Peethambaran told Reuters Health. He said that existing insoles, which focus on alleviating pressure but do nothing to stop friction in the area of the sore, often do not work. With existing insoles, the ulcer “doesn’t heal. We can reduce it, but it keeps coming back again,” Peethambaran said. The new design, in contrast, is made of materials that enable the foot to stay fixed in one place while walking, preventing friction from aggravating a sore and causing an infection, Peethambaran explained. In preliminary studies with about 10 diabetic patients with ulcers, Peethambaran said, the insole cut healing time by half, enabling an ulcer that would typically heal in three months to disappear in six weeks. He said that he hopes to continue to test the insoles in diabetic patients, and publish the results of these experiments in the near future. Peethambaran stressed that the new insoles are not widely available, and can only be obtained when patients get a prescription from their doctors and fill it at the University of Michigan. He noted that two insoles cost around $400, which is often reimbursed by insurance. The orthotist added that the same insole might also help non-diabetics with foot sores, and said he hopes to one day work with a manufacturer to mass produce the insoles. “We are working on it,” he said.(Source: MEDLINE Plus, Reuters Health Dec 2003)