One thing we Sri Lankans are known for is our ingenuity, so it’s not surprising to say that one of our own has come up with a way to save lives from diabetes. Pasindu Lugoda, a Ph.D. student in the University of Nottingham Trent, is the leading scientist in a groundbreaking new technology. This technology is a sock that can put a stop to foot amputations in diabetic patients. These ‘Smart socks’ will be able to put a complete stop to foot amputations due to diabetes.
Pasindu started his Ph.D. in February of 2014 at the young age of 22, being one of only 7 people to get a full scholarship to the University of Nottingham Trent. With the help of his supervisor Professor Tilak Dais, he was able to grab the attention of many companies looking to fund new scientific developments. Among these companies was San Francisco-based Siren Care, a company looking for someone to help them save lives.
Today, diabetes is one of the biggest and well know diseases in the world, with nearly four million cases in Sri Lanka alone. Foot ulcers are a major complication of diabetes, one of the symptoms of diabetes is that it impedes the normal steps of the wounds’ healing process. These ulcers can lead to the amputation of one’s foot if not detected early. This occurs in 15% of people with diabetes, and 84% of the time it ends up in a foot amputation. Every 20 seconds a foot is amputated because of foot ulcers.
There was a need for a method of early detection for foot ulcers, and Sirencare was desperately searching for a technology that could do just that. Research done before hand shows before an ulcer occurs there is a temperature difference in between points in a patient’s feet, typically more than 3.5 degrees Celsius. Pasindu was already developing this technology and incorporating temperature sensors into yarn as a part of his Ph.D., therefore, he was contacted about making a sock that could detect foot ulcers.
The advanced textiles research group in Nottingham Trent, led by Professor Tilak Dais, which Pasindu is a part of, has incorporated temperature sensors (Thermistors) in the yarns of socks. By placing the sensors at several different spots on the sock, they are able to remotely monitor the temperature continuously at several points in the foot.
The best part about these socks at that they are just like any other ordinary sock, there’s no hassle and people can go on with their day to day lives while wearing the sock. The socks are even washable due to the fact that the temperature sensors are encapsulated in water-resistant resin pods.
This is not only helpful for patients, but to doctors as well. The socks have another custom made Bluetooth chip installed in the socks that communicate with smartphones and tablets, so all your general physician has to do is turn on their phones and they’ll know if an ulcer is being formed. Clinical trials have shown that temperature monitoring can prevent diabetic foot ulcers up to 72%.
The sock will be available in pharmacies in just a few short months. As we all know early detection of any disease is crucial for curing it or its prevention. This new technology allows the prevention of foot ulcers as soon as it is detected without having to do the expensive and time-consuming test. So basically you get to save your legs by just wearing a sock.