What is it about?
This study aimed to predict diabetic foot ulcers using a foot temperature monitoring mat (Podimetrics SmartMat) that is easy to setup and use. The system is a wireless foot mat that measures temperature and is used daily in the patient’s home. Once a day, the patient steps on the mat for 20 seconds. The temperatures of different locations on the patient’s feet are automatically sent to a care team to look for signs of inflammation and reach out to the patient if inflammation is detected to help prevent wounds. This study recorded foot temperatures and foot ulcers from 129 patients using the mat who already had healed from a foot ulcer in the past. Using a temperature difference of 4° Fahrenheit, the mat predicted 97% of the ulcers that patients developed during the study. In addition, the mat detected inflammation on average about 5 weeks before the ulcer was found by doctors. This patient population typically has had difficulty with other preventive foot care, such as wearing diabetic shoes and checking their feet daily, which can put patients at risk for diabetic foot ulcers. In this study, 88% of patients reported the mat as “easy” to use and 86% used the mat at least three times a week. This level of use may be due to the mat’s simple design.
Photo by Nino Liverani on Unsplash
Why is it important?
Diabetic foot ulcers are a common and severe complication of diabetes and are a leading cause of amputations. Each foot ulcer can take months to heal, leading to infection and hospitalization. In the United States, foot ulcers are responsible for over $17 billion in total medical expenses every year. When patients have recently healed from a foot ulcer, they are at a much higher risk for developing another ulcer. In fact, between 30% and 40% of patients get a new foot ulcer in the first year after healing from an ulcer. Before a patient or doctor can see an ulcer visually, inflammation occurs under the skin of the foot. Inflammation generates heat, which can be detected by measuring and comparing the skin temperature on the bottom of a person’s feet. Temperature differences between the left and right feet lasting more than two days are a sign that an ulcer could be forming. In past studies, a difference in foot temperature larger than 4° Fahrenheit (2.2° Celsius) for two days in a row prompted action to prevent the wound, such as walking less or treating a callus. Although this research showed that 70% of foot ulcers could be prevented by measuring foot temperatures for inflammation, the thermometers were not easy to use, and most doctors and patients are not using these thermometers today. This study shows that the Podimetrics SmartMat can measure the skin temperature difference between both feet and accurately predict when a foot ulcer is developing. The findings also support recommending daily temperature monitoring for patients at high risk. The daily use of a remote temperature monitoring mat can help in the prevention of costly, life-altering and deadly diabetic foot ulcers.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Feasibility and Efficacy of a Smart Mat Technology to Predict Development of Diabetic Plantar Ulcers, Diabetes Care, May 2017, American Diabetes Association, DOI: 10.2337/dc16-2294.
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