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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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If the boot fits: Testing the guidelines for good fitting footwear

Project summary

Diabetic foot ulcers are a common complication of all types of diabetes. Ill-fitting footwear rubbing against the foot can increase the risk of a foot ulcer developing. Dr Petra Jones wants to test the existing guidelines for good fitting footwear for people living with diabetes, to ensure that the best advice is being given to protect their foot health.

Background to research

Diabetic foot ulcers are patches of broken skin on the foot that are slow to heal due to the damage caused to nerves and blood vessels in the feet by high blood sugars. In some cases, they can become infected, which in a small number of cases results in amputation. Diabetic foot ulcers can develop from a blister caused by badly fitting shoes, and research suggests that over 75% of people may be wearing footwear that is not right for them However, the different guidelines on what makes a “good fitting” shoe are inconsistent.

Research aims

Dr Jones will invite 60 people with diabetes and foot nerve damage to have the nerve damage in their feet assessed, as well as their general health. Then, while wearing their most frequently worn footwear, the participants will have the level of pressure on their feet measured. Using this information, alongside measurements of their footwear and feet, Dr Jones will assess if the footwear is “correctly fitting”, to establish which guidelines are most helpful.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Up to 25% of people with diabetes will experience a foot ulcer in their lifetime. Research indicates as many as 20% of foot ulcer develop from rubbing of poorly fitted footwear. Dr Jones’ research will help to establish a new standard for what defines good fitting footwear and help protect the feet of people living with diabetes.

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