The Feasibility and Effectiveness of Wearable Sensor Technology in the Management of Elderly Diabetics with Foot Ulcer Remission: A Proof-Of-Concept Pilot Study with Six Cases

Chenzhen Du, Hongyan Wang, Heming Chen, Xiaoyun Fan, Dongliang Liu, Dingyuan Du, Mengjun Wu, Guixue Wang, Johnson Boey, David G. Armstrong, Yu Ma, Wuquan Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aims: Using specials wearable sensors, we explored changes in gait and balance parameters, over time, in elderly patients at high risk of diabetic foot, wearing different types of footwear. This assessed the relationship between gait and balance changes in elderly diabetic patients and the development of foot ulcers, in a bid to uncover potential benefits of wearable devices in the prognosis and management of the aforementioned complication. Methods: A wearable sensor-based monitoring system was used in middle-elderly patients with diabetes who recently recovered from neuropathic plantar foot ulcers. A total of 6 patients (age range: 55-80 years) were divided into 2 groups: the therapeutic footwear group (n = 3) and the regular footwear (n = 3) group. All subjects were assessed for gait and balance throughout the study period. Walking ability and gait pattern were assessed by allowing participants to walk normally for 1 min at habitual speed. The balance assessment program incorporated the "feet together"standing test and the instrumented modified Clinical Test of Sensory Integration and Balance. Biomechanical information was monitored at least 3 times. Results: We found significant differences in stride length (p < 0.0001), stride velocity (p < 0.0001), and double support (p < 0.0001) between the offloading footwear group (OG) and the regular footwear group on a group × time interaction. The balance test embracing eyes-open condition revealed a significant difference in Hip Sway (p = 0.004), COM Range ML (p = 0.008), and COM Position (p = 0.004) between the 2 groups. Longitudinally, the offloading group exhibited slight improvement in the performance of gait parameters over time. The stride length (odds ratio 3.54, 95% CI 1.34-9.34, p = 0.018) and velocity (odds ratio 3.13, 95% CI 1.19-8.19, p = 0.033) of OG patients increased, converse to the double-support period (odds ratio 6.20, 95% CI 1.97-19.55, p = 0.002), which decreased. Conclusions: Special wearable devices can accurately monitor gait and balance parameters in patients in real time. The finding reveals the feasibility and effectiveness of advanced wearable sensors in the prevention and management of diabetic foot ulcer and provides a solid background for future research. In addition, the development of foot ulcers in elderly diabetic patients may be associated with changes in gait parameters and the nature of footwear. Even so, larger follow-up studies are needed to validate our findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-502
Number of pages10
JournalGerontology
Volume67
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Biomechanical balance performance
  • Offloading footwear
  • Wearable monitoring system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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