A US-Qatar joint research project, involving different studies carried out by the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), the Qatar Foundation, and several institutions and companies across the US, developed innovative and useful wearable devices for diabetics, which can help the patients either prevent and manage or even treat diabetic foot ulcers.
By gathering the data from all the studies, the research project earned the Best Research Project Award at Qatar Foundation’s Annual Research Conference, held earlier in 2018.
Research of significant importance for the world
The project, of a considerable importance for Qatar, as the International Diabetes Federations assessed that about 23% of the country’s population has diabetes, while the diabetic foot ulcers are the primary reason for hospitalization, is also massively important for the world, as the nowadays unhealthy dietary habits increase the risks of diabetes development, worldwide.
“Between 10% and 20% of people with diabetes will develop diabetic foot ulcers at some point in their life. People with diabetes are especially vulnerable to foot ulcers as their blood sugar levels are often high and can fluctuate. This can inhibit the skin’s ability to repair itself due to nerve damage,” asserted Dr. Talal Khader from the HMC, and the studies’ leading author.
The joint research project came up with new wearable devices for diabetics
One of the studies in the vas US-Qatar joint project came up with a “smart sock” made of optic sensors fibers that can help doctors monitor the temperature, the pressure, and joint angles of a patient at risk of developing diabetic foot ulcers.
“By monitoring this information via the “smart sock,” we are able to predict when a patient may be most vulnerable to the development of a foot ulcer,” said Dr. Talal Khader.
In another study, a type of a “smart shirt” was designed to monitor the diabetics’ physical activity sessions. It is well-known that workouts are good in diabetes, but too much physical activity can lead to higher stress levels, while too little can cause diabetic foot ulcers.
Ultimately, another research developed a sensor-based interactive balance training and worked on estimating its effects in people with diabetes with mobility issues.
“Though the devices developed are still undergoing further investigation, our initial research findings indicate that they could become very valuable tools in the future,” concluded Dr. Talal Khader.