Students at the University of Sunderland are carrying out research which they hope will help reduce the risk of foot ulcers in people with diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage ).
Diabetes sufferers are more prone to circulatory problems and the loss of sensation, particularly in the arms, hands, legs and feet. These problems can easily develop into skin ulcers, which left untreated can lead to loss of limb or even death.
To help protect diabetics against foot ulceration and amputation, a team of five undergraduates are investigating the relationship between the loss of sensation that can affect the feet and legs, and pressure and forces on the sole of the foot, as well as the electrical impulse in leg muscle that help control balance.
Their research involves volunteers walking across a machine at the University of Sunderland’s biomechanics laboratory, which accurately measures the forces across their foot, and using another machine to record the actions of the muscles in the volunteers’ legs.
“Our study is trying to reduce the likelihood of people with peripheral sensory neuropathy developing foot ulceratio,” explained lead researcher Dr Rob Colclough.
“More evidence is required to understand how loss in sensation develops, its physical and mechanical implications and its prevention or effective treatment .
“By investigating how much loading is taking place, there may be a physical mechanism which can be introduced to stop the progressio, such as a special shoe or insole.”
One of the volunteers is retired Sunderland teacher, Joan Johnso, 61, who has been living with type 2 diabetes since 2002.
“I certainly don’t mind being a guinea pig because it all helps towards the research the university is doing,” she said. “I would like to see a cure for this disease eventually and think it’s really encouraging knowing the university is involved in this study.”

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