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Simple Interventions Reduce Amputations by 50%

Simple things like shoe inserts, foot care and regular checkups can reduce amputations among patients with diabetes by more than half….

Orthotic researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, who have been studying diabetic foot complications since 2008, carried out the research, focusing on protecting the foot from overloading the foot sole in order to minimize the risk of ulcers.

For their latest study, the team assessed 114 Swedish diabetic patients at risk of developing such ulcers who had lived with diabetes for an average of 12 years.

Each participant wore one of three different types of shoe inserts, and after one year only 0.9 per cent developed new foot ulcers during the first year, compared to the figure of 3-8 per cent that has been reported for similar diabetic populations.

Ulla Tang, a doctoral student, said: "We found that good shoes and inserts can reduce pressure on the foot by 50 per cent compared with going barefoot." "Our conclusion at the end of one year is that all 3 types of inserts effectively distribute pressure under the sole in order to minimize the risk of ulcers."
The study also revealed that only 67 per cent of the patients had been offered podiatry care despite the fact that 83 per cent had calluses.

The authors concluded that shoe inserts, podiatry, information and regular checkups can prevent ulcers and thus significantly reduce the number of diabetes-related amputations.

Practice Pearl:
  • It is important that patients with diabetes are provided foot care and checkups with a podiatrist on a yearly basis.

The findings are due to be presented next month at the International Conference on Prosthetics and Orthotics in Hyderabad, India.