Study Finds Low-Cost Interventions Very Effective in Preventing Foot Ulcers
About 2.4 million people with diabetes will also develop a foot ulcer, a very serious sore that can result in widespread infection and even amputation. While normally, a sore will heal relatively quickly and the body’s immune system will ward off infection, in diabetes, the healing and immune systems can be compromised, which makes the development of a serious infection far more likely.
Low-Cost Interventions Are Very Effective
Because multiple factors cause and contribute to the development and increasing severity of foot ulcers, it is no surprise that managing these ulcers is very costly. Rigorous prevention strategies are of course, the best way to prevent ulcer complications, as well as to reduce the cost of care. Recent research has begun to explore how the use of technology, especially wearable technology, can improve patients’ efforts to prevent foot ulcers by making sure they comply with treatment recommendations. This new technology can even alert them when their risk for foot ulcers is on the rise. In fact, this recent blog post on our site examined the use of “smart” shoe inserts that can alert the wearer to developing pressure points that need attention in order to prevent the development of sores. Using readily available technology, design and materials, the inserts promise a low-cost method of preventing ulcers to help diabetic patients stay healthier.
That’s just one way technology is helping. In a recent article in the Journal of Diabetes Complications, researchers used statistical analysis and modeling to estimate potential foot-related complications and associated care costs in a hypothetical population of 100,000 people with diabetes.
The study assumed a population with no prior history of foot ulcers but with a 17% rate of nerve issues and an 11% rate of circulatory problems, both extremely common complications that contribute to ulcer pathology. In their model, they found primary prevention strategies costing less than $50 per person could be extremely effective in decreasing the cost of care for diabetic populations.
The study, which is ongoing, says low-cost strategies like mobile phone-based reminders, educational brochures and self-examination and identification of risk factors were all very effective low-cost interventions with great promise for reducing the incidence of foot ulcers, helping to keep the cost of care low. In addition, the researchers identified other potential low-cost prevention options, like the use of “smart” socks, home-based units to monitor inflammation and even simple thermometers to look for “hot spots” that could indicate inflammation in progress.
Understanding Your Risks for Foot Ulcers
The Foot & Ankle Clinic is a top provider of diabetic foot care for patients in and around Los Angeles. Dr. Felix Sigal has extensive experience in diabetic foot ulcer research and regularly recruits patients for ongoing studies of cutting-edge treatments designed to reduce the incidence of ulcers as well as the complications associated with them. To learn more about diabetic foot ulcer prevention and treatment as well as ongoing clinical trials, call the clinic at 213-365-0793 and schedule your consultation and evaluation today.