Diabetes: Reducing Amputations by 50%
Every 30 seconds, somebody in the world is amputated as a consequence of foot complication due to diabetes. Yet a Swedish study has confirmed that simple interventions such as shoe inserts known as orthotics, along with regular checkups by a podiatrist, can reduce the number of amputations by more than 50%.
Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg focused on minimizing the risk of ulsers by protecting the foot from overloading the sole. Ulcers are a leading cause of amputation. The participants in the study, which will be presented at the International Conference on Prosthetics and Orthotics in India in February, have an average age of 58 and have had diabetes for an average of 12 years. They wore one of three different types of shoe inserts over a period of two years.
Only 0.9% of the participants developed new foot ulcers during the first year, as opposed to 3% to 8% that has been reported for similar diabetic populations. A release from the academy quotes doctoral student Ulla Tang as saying, "We found that good shoes and inserts can reduce pressure on the foot by 50%. Our conclusion at the end of one year is that all three types of inserts effectively distribute pressure under the sole in order to minimize the risk of ulcers."
The study also found that only 67% of diabetes patients had been offered podiatry despite the fact that 83% had calluses. The researchers who will be attending the conference in India are also planning to introduce a new digital tool they have developed for the assessment of the risk for foot ulcers. An orthotist would be able use the instrument as a basis for the prescription of suitable shoes and insoles.