Smart insole uses text messages to prevent amputations for diabetics

Scottish scientists have revealed a breakthrough technology that could provide real help to diabetes sufferers and save the NHS millions of pounds a year.

An electronic insole has been created that fits inside a normal shoe and uses tiny sensors to detect pressure on the foot, reports The wearer will then be sent a text or Twitter message if they are at risk of developing foot problems.

Each year an estimated 3.7 million UK diabetics suffer from issues such as ulcers, gangrene and deformities due to lack of feeling in their feet; a common complication of the condition.

Small cuts and bruises can turn into ulcers and infections due to this lack of pain reception, which in turn can lead to drastic measures such as amputations. It is reported by Diabetes UK that problems such as these cost the NHS up to £700 million a year and lead to around 6,000 amputations; more than 100 a week.

The smart insole has been developed by Glaswegian firm HCi Viocare Technologies and aims to reduce the risk of amputation with the use of technology and a simple text message alert.

Chief technology officer Dr Christos Kapatos refers to the condition as a “ticking time bomb” but hopes the company’s latest product could help: “What our product shows is that, if you are taking care of your foot, you can avoid ulcers and amputation. We’re not reinventing the wheel – we’re just giving people a smart way to monitor their feet.”

Clinical trials are still ongoing but it’s likely the smart insole will be on sale by the end of the year. With an expected cost of under £100, it is hoped that the NHS could offer it on prescription.