Today's podiatrists stay a step ahead with 3-D printing, balance sensors, smart textiles
BETHESDA, Md., November 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During Diabetes Awareness Month this November, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) highlights podiatrists across the country who are developing and using high-tech tools to better monitor and address issues commonly faced by their patients with diabetes.
Of the more than 26 million people in the US with diabetes, about half will develop neuropathy, a loss of feeling in the lower extremities. This nerve damage means an open sore or injury on the foot may go unnoticed until it becomes infected, which can eventually lead to the need for partial or full amputation of the foot or lower leg.
David G. Armstrong, DPM, MD, PhD, and founder of the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA), is working with a team of researchers to incorporate smart textiles into his treatment of diabetes patients. Fiber optic sensors in a special pair of socks can identify "hot spots" (high temperature areas on a patient's foot can pinpoint where tissue is beginning to break down), high pressure points, and areas of strain around joints.
"This is game-changing," Armstrong said. "These smart textiles allow us to evaluate the individual needs of each patient and more effectively monitor and manage their foot health." SALSA is one of three partners that received more than $2 million in research grants to do a three-year study on these "smart socks."
Armstrong's colleague Nicholas Giovinco, DPM, uses 3-D printing to transform X-ray images into physical models of the complex skeletal structure of the foot and ankle. This hands-on approach allows the SALSA team to assess deformities or any challenges to surgical intervention.
SALSA biomedical engineer Bijan Najafi, PhD, works with a smart sensor attached to the chest that tracks a diabetes patient's heart rate, respiration, and level of activity in real-time. The device can alert podiatrists via smartphone if their patient is experiencing high levels of stress, which can affect wound healing. Special insoles can ping a patient's smartphone or send a text message to alert them if, say, a small pebble has found its way into their shoe—a minor annoyance for most of us, but for someone suffering from neuropathy, a significant threat that could result in the loss of a limb.
During Diabetes Awareness Month, APMA encourages diabetes patients and those at risk for developing the disease to take a step in the right direction by having their feet checked by a podiatrist.
Visit www.apma.org/diabetes to view a video featuring more cutting-edge technologies, download fact sheets and infographics, learn your risk for diabetes, and find a podiatrist near you.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Images and video footage are available to members of the media upon request.
Contact Brielle Day, [email protected]
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is the nation's leading professional organization for today's podiatrists. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPMs) are qualified by their education, training, and experience to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and structures of the leg. APMA has 53 state component locations across the United States and its territories, with a membership of more than 12,000 podiatrists. All practicing APMA members are licensed by the state in which they practice podiatric medicine. For more information, visit www.apma.org.
SOURCE American Podiatric Medical Association