New Study To Combat Foot Ulcers

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Patients may soon be saying goodbye to troublesome foot ulcers thanks to a study by a JCU researcher.

By Emma Kennedy

JCU PhD candidate and Vascular Biology Unit researcher Malindu Fernando said the study aimed to discover the causes and triggers of foot ulcers in Type 2 Diabetes patients.

HIGH-TECH: JCU PhD candidate and researcher Malindu Fernando with the close to $500,000 worth of equipment he will use to study diabetic foot ulcers

“We know there is a risk of foot ulcers [in Type 2 Diabetes patients] but nobody’s looked at how sugar control affects the process over a long time,” he said.

“We want to look at how these people are walking and how that has an effect on their diabetes.”

A symptom of diabetes is a loss of sensation in the feet which can lead to foot ulcers and other problems due to patients being unable to feel any injuries that may occur.

Mr Fernando initiated the study after completing placement in Townsville last year and seeing first-hand the “big problem” foot ulceration was in the area.

He began signing participants for the trial last month but still needs more for a full control study.

The study will primarily focus on around 50 Type 2 Diabetes patients with foot ulcers, but will also need the same number of Type 2 Diabetic patients without complications and a group of non-diabetic participants as a comparison.

“People will have an initial assessment with a vascular specialist and a diabetes specialist who will do some tests, then after that they will come to JCU and the system here will tell us in very fine detail about how people with diabetes are walking,” Mr Fernando said.

“We’ll look at the forces through their lower legs, hips, knees, ankles and joints as well as the pressures under their foot, how well the muscles are working and how much their diabetes may have affected their walking.”

Mr Fernando said the ideal outcome would be to determine whether or not the ulcers were preventable or treatable with walking techniques and strategise how to do so.

“We want to know how we can address this problem better or how we can prevent it early on as well as address how they’re walking,” he said.

“We’d like to see if there are any specific markers in the blood to prevent ulcers before they happen and then treat them if they’ve already happened.

“In treating we can look at walking patterns, different areas of the diabetes and the effects on the body.”

Study participants will need to attend an initial visit of 90 minutes to two hours, as well as an hour visit at the three, six, nine and 12-month mark but in return will receive a detailed analysis of their walking and tips on how to better their health as a result.

Mr Fernando will be recruiting participants until the end of the yea, with a particular interest in those aged between 45 and 70.

Anyone interested in participating should contact their local GP or Mr Fernando himself on 4781 3144.