Thursday, May 28, 2009
EUREKA Project E! 2923 DIASHOE
Professor Petr Hlavacek is the Head of the Institute of Proteins and Leather Technology at the Tomas Bata University in the Czech Republic. He approached Czech footwear manufacturer and retailer Bata to suggest collaborating on developing a new generation of affordable prophylactic footwear for diabetics. The four-year project gathered together the expertise of university researchers, diabetes experts and orthopedic footwear specialists from the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and Italy. The team designed and developed a prototype DIASHOE, shoe last based upon thousands of meticulous measurements. The team also experimented with different materials to formulate soles with varying degrees of flexibility and support for differing degrees of foot impairment, and protecting specific pressure points when walking. New upper designs in synthetic fabrics were also developed and the team spent time developing and testing insoles and antibacterial treatment for shoe lining materials. Extensive controlled clinical trials were undertaken before the shoes were marketed under the brand name MEDI through Bata stores, pharmacies and orthotic shops selling medical devices in the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. MEDI footwear is manufactured in the Czech Republic and the future hope is the shoes will become available world wide. Diabetes rates have risen sharply in developed countries in the wake of the obesity epidemic, and an estimated 30 million Europeans live with the condition. Foot problems are the most common cause of admission to hospital for diabetics, who are at risk of serious complications such as nerve damage and problems with the blood supply to their feet. Both conditions can lead to slow-healing wounds and foot ulcers which, if they get infected and become gangrenous, can lead to amputation. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), most cases of foot ulcers and amputations can be prevented by good foot care and wearing appropriate, properly fitting shoes that don’t rub the feet or create pressure spots. Studies show that unsuitable footwear contributes to a significant increase in foot complications and is linked to 60-80% of all cases of foot damage.