Studies show that every 30 seconds someone around the world will lose their foot through amputation due to diabetic complications. According to a study by Sahlgrenska Academy in the University of Gathenburg, Sweden shows that just a few routine tips and techniques could cut down on the need for amputations by 50 percent.
These tips and techniques include regular check-ups from a doctor and wearing correct inserts and other necessary changes deemed warranted by a podiatrist.
Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have studied diabetic foot complications since 2008. One major problem when it comes to foot complications is ulcers. This typically happens when the foot overloads the sole of the shoe. Ulcers can be extremely hard to heal and that is why so many amputations become necessary.
To implement this study, researchers tested 114 Swedish patients whom all have diabetes and also a risk of developing ulcers. The results proved that regular check-ups, podiatry, information and shoe inserts all can prevent ulcers and that in the use of these four tips and techniques that amputations could be cut down by more than 50 percent.
Patients who were a part of this study will be presented at the International Conference on Prosthetics and Orthotics in Hyderabad, India in February. The patients average at 58 years of age and have a 12 year diagnosis of diabetes. Each patient wore one of three different types of shoe inserts over a time span of two years.
0.9 percent of the participants ended up developing new foot ulcers during the first year of the study, which is a decrease from the 3 to 8 percent that had been reported before in a different study.
Doctoral Student Ulla Tang said, “We found that good shoes and inserts can reduce pressure on the foot by 50% compared with going barefoot. Our conclusion at the end of one year is that all three types of inserts effectively distribute pressure under the sole in order to minimize the risk of ulcers.”
Another bit of information that came from the study was that only 67 percent of diabetic patients from the study had been offered podiatry even though 83 percent had calluses.
Tang said. “An insert costs anywhere from SEK 850 to SEK 1,450. Healing a diabetic foot ulcer averages SEK 70,000, while an amputation demands up to SEK 1 million in social and healthcare resources. Ulcer prevention is not only a way of relieving suffering but a sound financial investment.”
The researchers for this study are planning to attend the conference mentioned earlier in the articles and they plan to introduce a new digital tool. The tool was developed in collaboration with the Västra Götaland region. This new digital tool will make the assessment of the risk for foot ulcers faster, easier and more reliable. What researchers hope for is that the tool can be used as a basis in a prescription that the foot doctor can prescribe for insoles and suitable shoes for each diabetic patient.