In people with diabetes, if high blood glucose levels are experienced over a period of years, their blood vessels can become damaged, causing circulation problems that can have potentially very serious consequences for their feet.
Even with a minor foot injury – such as a blister or dry, cracked skin – the decreased blood flow means the ability for a wound to heal is weakened, leading to ulcers.
Coupled with ‘neuropathy’ – a loss of sensation that can affect diabetic patients – the risks of infection and ultimately amputation are increased.
But thanks to a Glasgow bio-engineering firm, management of the condition looks set to become a whole lot easier.
HCi Viocare Technologies has developed a connected ‘Smart Insole’, which uses a network of tiny electronic sensors to relay data back to a smart device or mobile for real-time feedback and analysis – flagging up alerts to allow sufferers to take corrective action.
With a dual application to the sports market – it can monitor athletes’ running style to avoid injury-causing problems such as over-pronation – the prototype technology syncs via Bluetooth with an app on an iOS/Android smartphone, tablet or a PC.
It sends instant readings to the user and could, according to the company, even be relayed directly to healthcare professionals or sports coaches.
Christos Kapatos, Chief Technology Officer of HCi Viocare Technologies said: “2015 is the year that both industries and individuals will truly begin to feel the impact of connectivity beyond the smartphone and PC. The Internet of Things is happening and we are already witnessing it in our everyday lives.
“We are developing a portfolio of game-changing and even life-changing products that will take wearable tech to the next level of detail and sophistication.
“Our Smart Insole is a great example of exactly how Internet of Things products will radically define our lives over the next decade.”
The company, which is headquartered in Greece but has an R&D facility in Glasgow, is seeking a partner to licence the technology and is currently in discussion with a number of investors in the hope of taking it to market.
It is expected to retail at under £200 and may be prescribed or reimbursed by healthcare providers to diabetic patients at risk of foot ulcers. The company is also embarking on patient trials in order to show what and how it measures the readings from foot pressure.
Worldwide, diabetes-related complications result in the amputation of a lower limb every 30 seconds. And it’s estimated that people living with diabetes are up to 30 times more likely to have an amputation compared to the general population. In Scotland, 450 amputations are carried out each year.