If these feet could talk, what a story they’d tell. All the places they’ve been, all the while carrying the weight of the world on them. We tend to forget about our feet, until they start telling us that there is a problem. But, they don’t use words; instead these conversations usually start with aches, pains or even burning sensations. And if you don’t listen, these conversations can get much 'louder' and angrier until you can't ignore the problem any longer and you need to see a doctor or a podiatrist.
But, if you have diabetes, it’s not that you choose to deliberately ignore your feet, it’s that the condition can cause complications so that you can’t actually feel or 'hear' what your feet are trying to tell you. Diabetes can result in nerve and blood vessel complications that lead to a loss of sensation in your feet making it much more difficult to know if your feet have a problem. This means people with diabetes have much higher chances of getting ulcers and other kinds of foot disease.
Diabetic foot disease is a silent but major epidemic. Nearly 10,000 Queenslanders are suffering with diabetic foot ulcers today, while another 60,000 are at-risk of developing them. Unfortunately, these ulcers are the reason why one in every 50 Queensland inpatients will be admitted to hospital today and why over 700 Queenslanders will lose their leg this year. If these ulcers can be healed quickly, many of these devastating outcomes can be prevented.
Our researchers are developing an innovative mobile app in partnership with QUT to help people care for diabetic foot ulcers at home to promote faster healing and to prevent ulcers in the first place. The app, MyFootCare, will work by encouraging users to take a photo or ‘foot selfie’ of their ulcer regularly as they change dressings.
A thermal imaging feature will also be incorporated into the app to try and identify signs of infection or new ulcers. As existing ulcers heal, it can be difficult to see progress but by taking a photo, users will be able to objectively see change over time and share this information with their medical team. It is hoped that by using the app patients will feel empowered to improve their self-care of their foot ulcer which could reduce hospitalisation rates, amputations and even deaths.
If these feet could talk, they’d want to thank you for joining The Common Good. This innovative research project is happening right now because of you. By investing in our medical researchers, you’ve put some real people power behind tackling the chronic diseases that will affect 90% of us all. It’s enough to make your feet happy.