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Treating diabetic foot ulcers: new research with smart shoe insoles

A research team, involving academics at Oxford Brookes University, has been awarded a share of a £1.6 million grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop smart shoe insoles to help tackle diabetic foot ulcers.  Diabetic foot ulcers affect a quarter of people with diabetes and cost the NHS around £1 billion a year.

Funded by UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), the research team will create a new digital technology embedded in insoles to help people with diabetes adjust how they walk and self-manage foot ulcers.  The research group will co-design, with patients, the self-managed use of smart shoe insoles.

Professor Helen Dawes, Director of the Centre for Movement and Occupational Rehabilitation Sciences at Oxford Brookes University said: “These insoles are intended to identify early signs of ulceration and allow people to benefit from being able to walk without putting their feet at risk.  Using machine components that convert energy into movement, they will adjust the way people walk to support better, safe and comfortable movement, allowing people prone to diabetic foot ulcers to be more safely active.”

The two-year research project is led by the University of Manchester, and involves Oxford Brookes University, the University of Strathclyde, the University of Southampton and Loughborough University.

Improving the lives of millions of people

The project was one of 20 announced to revolutionise healthcare, improve treatments for millions of people and save the NHS money.

EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “Technologies and approaches pioneered by UK researchers have the potential to revolutionise treatment for a wide range of conditions, from bowel cancer to diabetes.  The projects announced exemplify this potential and may play a key role in improving the lives of millions of people.”

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