Pressure-monitoring stocking for diabetics is going to be a life-saver
Being diabetic comes with its own set of problems which can be very depressing. One problem that most of the diabetic patients encounter is the lack of sensation in their feet. It can be the inability to sense pressure or temperature signals which is not a good sign, and in extreme cases feet or toes of the patient need to be amputated to prevent spreading of infection. Fraunhofer researchers have developed a pair of pressure stockings that helps the patient in detecting any signs of infection or wounds, and unlike other products this one measures pressure from every possible angle.
Researchers have developed stocking that helps the patient in detecting any signs of infection or wounds.
The prototype pressure stockings are loaded with 40 elastomer sensors that ensure three-dimensional pressure readings by detecting load and distribution on the feet. All these sensors are distributed at the sole, ankle, top of foot and heel area. This task is otherwise performed by the nerves, but due to diabetes this function is rendered incapable. In addition to that the stockings have flexible electrodes that mix with the textile and give accurate pressure alerts when needed.
A simple example of how loss of sensation can lead to problem is that when the patient is standing on one spot for extended period of time, it can lead to muscle rupture, and needs to be detected in time. Normally our nerves give the brain signal to move the feet to release strain, but in diabetics due to loss of sensation this action is not performed.
With the current prototype, the electronics are attached to the end of the stocking. We’re planning to relocate them to a small, button-sized housing that can be detached with a hook-and-loop fastening strip. There’s no way around this until a reliable method for cleaning the electronics is developed. The sensors, on the other hand, have to be resistant to water and detergent. “The first washability tests are in planning, but cleaning using disinfectant is no problem.
Said Fraunhofer ISC research scientist Dr. Bernhard Brunner.
The researchers have plans to refine the design of these stockings and release them to the public in a wide range of options for sports, fitness and general usage. For now the stockings are going to be presented at SENSOR+TEST 2015 in Nuremberg on 19-21 May.