A team from Israel has created socks that can detect the formation of foot ulcers.

According to the New York University Langone Medical Center, foot ulcers occur in 15 percent of all diabetic patients. Treating these ulcers can prove difficult, and between 14 and 24 percent of patients will end up requiring lower extremity amputation, as the American Podiatric Medical Association pointed out. Perhaps that’s because, as Healthline explained, there are quite a few risk factors for these ulcers, including obesity, poor hygiene, heart disease, tobacco use, and even poorly fitting shoes.

Now, though, researchers are actually using footwear to stem the tide and prevent ulcers from developing in the first place.

Smart socks

A team of engineering and design students at Hebrew University of Jerusalem have unveiled a pair of socks that double as pressure sensors. SenseGo, as the technology is called, uses sensors to detect tiny changes in pressure around the entire foot. Those variations can be caused by everything from ill-fitting shoes and deformations of the foot to a person’s poor posture. Once a pressure change has been detected, the socks send a signal to the SenseGo mobile app, alerting users of their condition and encouraging them to seek medical help.

In an accompanying press release, the Hebrew team said that most ulcers are only diagnosed after they’ve formed, and SenseGo is a great preventative measure. Ultimately, by catching ulcers early, the team said it can help prevent diabetic neuropathy, which can be expensive to treat. A 2010 report from Baylor College of Medicine noted that caring for diabetic ulcers costs over $10 billion annually. A study from the Geisinger Center for Health Research found that workers with neuropathy lose $3.65 billion annually in diminished productivity.

“This is a significant medical problem that affects the lives of millions,” said lead engineer Danny Bavli. “We thought there must be a way to avoid these wounds altogether.”

No word yet on when the socks will be available commercially. They are, however, intended to be machine wash safe.

On the right foot

The development of these socks only further illustrates just how important proper footwear is for diabetic patients. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society explained that proper footwear achieves four key goals. The right shoes will limit joint movement, which can help with reducing both pain and inflammation. If you have any deformities or issues with stability, you need shoes that offer proper support. Additionally, shoes should also prevent shear and shock, or the amount of horizontal and vertical pressure on your feet. Finally, shoes should always evenly spread out pressure on your feet; excess pressure on a single area is the cause of most footwear-related ulcers.

Speak with your doctor about the kind of shoes you need and how to protect your feet. For all your specialized wound care supplies, you can always turn to Advanced Tissue.