The EPSRC CYCLOPS Network funded project has been selected as one of the case studies for MEU marketing documents.
Case Study: Smart shoe insole for monitoring foot health of patients with diabetes
Professors Paul Stewart and Jill Stewart with Early Career Researcher Tom Walker at the University of Derby are collaborating with Professor Frances Game, Consultant Diabetologist at the Royal Derby Hospital to investigate the feasibility of an intelligent shoe insole for patients with diabetes. The novel insole contains an array of sensors to screen feet which, due to diabetes affecting the nerve supply, are at high-risk of getting ulcers. The insole is manufactured from a “smart” material that is shape-controlled to support a particular area of the foot in response to an instruction made by an intelligent closed-loop control system. This approach could potentially reduce both the number of appointments required with healthcare professionals AND advise the patient when referral to a specialist is appropriate. Data collected over time from the insoles would also be available to support longer term diagnosis/treatment decisions.
Working with the NHS enables the evaluation of the performance of a range of novel ‘smart’ materials (these being materials whose shape can be changed by temperature or electrical signals) in the form of orthotic devices (insoles). The insole material properties will change in response to different footwear, patient weight and gait changes, and the development of minor foot deformities.
The work will also establish what combination of sensors and intelligent data processing are appropriate for use, and what data is necessary, sufficient and available for monitoring foot health and hence preventing the development of more serious conditions. The available data will be integrated into a closed loop control system, integrating smart sensing, intelligent signal processing, controlled smart materials and decision support.