Preventing foot ulcers with pressure-predicting model

May 3, 2016 by Amy Mcsweeny

A new mathematical model to predict the pressure on feet, which could then lead to the prevention of foot ulcers, could be developed thanks to academics at Plymouth University.

Dr Miriam McMullan, Lecturer in Podiatry, and Dr Jason Hughes, from the University's Mathematical Sciences Research Centre, are collaborating to devise the model thanks to a grant from the University's Institute of Health and Community Pump Priming Fund. 

The model will aim to estimate horizontal plantar shear, which, combined with vertical pressure, is one of the causes of foot ulceration – especially prevalent in people with

Unlike vertical pressure, which is measured by commercially available devices, horizontal pressure is estimated by an existing ; the accuracy of which is limited as it requires several assumptions.

However the new study aims to develop a more refined mathematical model using easily measurable vertical pressure data. 

The model could potentially help to predict when and where ulcers might occur, thereby helping to prevent their development.

Dr McMullan said: 

"When people with severe diabetic peripheral neuropathy start to lose sensation in their body, the feet are usually the first area to be affected. The horizontal and vertical pressure on the feet can result in ulcerations and, although the patient can't necessarily feel the ulcers, they can lead to further problems and infections.
"It is very difficult to measure horizontal plantar shear and, presently, it is impossible to directly measure subsurface shear. Although the existing mathematical model is a way of estimating horizontal pressure, the present model is limited by several assumptions. By improving the accuracy of the mathematical model currently utilised to predict horizontal pressure, we hope to provide a more effective way of preventing and also alleviate the problems of those who currently suffer."

Explore further: Podiatry services manage diabetes fallout

Related Stories

Podiatry services manage diabetes fallout

April 8, 2015

A Fremantle-based study has revealed the incidence of foot ulceration in patients with type 2 diabetes has remained stable over the past 15 years, due to community and hospital-based improvements in foot care.

How to avoid foot amputation in diabetic patients

April 20, 2016

Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University and National Autonomous Mexico University have developed techniques to treat diabetic foot syndrome with special insoles with silver nano-particles. The technique helps to fight ...

New tool to improve blood pressure measurement

March 21, 2016

Scientists at Oxford University have developed a new way of estimating our true underlying blood pressure that overcomes common problems in a clinical setting which can lead to misleading results. Their work is published ...

Recommended for you

Fat cells step in to help liver during fasting

March 17, 2017

How do mammals keep two biologically crucial metabolites in balance during times when they are feeding, sleeping, and fasting? The answer may require rewriting some textbooks.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.