IISc-led team develops footwear to prevent diabetic foot complications
BENGALURU: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have potentially solved the problem of injuries caused due to an abnormal gait with the help of a 3D-printed ‘snapping’ footwear. Collaborating with the Karnataka Institute of Endocrinology and Research (KIER), the researchers have developed a pair of footwear that help distribute uneven pressure caused by an abnormal gait.
The sandals are specifically designed for diabetic patients who have a slower rate of healing as well as suffer from diabetic peripheral neuropathy or diabetic nerve damage. Diabetic patients who have lost sensation in their feet are often at a higher risk of ulcers, calluses and other complications due to an abnormal gait that puts extra pressure on certain parts of the feet. This, combined with the low rate of healing, leads to infections that can eventually result in amputation.
To combat this, the researchers developed the footwear with ‘snapping’ arches installed in the soles to allow pressure to be evenly distributed and lessen the chance of injuries caused. When a certain amount of pressure is added, the arches within the sole snap into an inverted shape. While most therapeutic footwear addresses this issue with memory foam, the problem comes with offloading the pressure. The arches within the shoe soles are able to snap back into shape after pressure has been exerted on them.
“When we remove the pressure, (the arch) will automatically come back to its initial position — this is what is called self-offloading. We consider the individual’s weight, foot size, walking speed and pressure distribution to arrive at the maximum force that has to be off-loaded,” Priyabrata Maharana, first author and one of the researchers said. To commercialise the footwear and make it widely accessible, the researchers are currently collaborating with two Bengaluru-based healthcare start-ups — Foot Secure and Yostra Labs.