Sunday, July 06, 2014

Neuropad: Diagnostic aid for peripheral neuropathy

A new foot patch could help make it easier for people with diabetes to check for early signs of nerve damage (neuropathy). Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most common complications of uncontrolled diabetes and a major risk factor for amputation (loss of limb). Current checks for neuropathy, such as electromyography (nerve function test) have to be carried out at a clinic by a health professional.

Neuropad is a new home-based, diagnostic test designed specifically for the feet. It works by detecting sweat which often leads to unusually dry skin on the feet. Damaged nerves which cause reduction in sweat also cause a loss of sensation. The easy to use pads require to be stuck to the foot and left for approximately 10 minutes. The adhesive patch contains the blue salt anhydrous cobalt II chloride, which reacts and changes to pink when exposed to water. If there is sweat on the skin, the pad will change colour from blue to pink, suggesting that all is well. If, however, there is no sweat, there will be minimal or no colour change, indicating problems with the nerves of the foot. During trials, Neuropad was tested on around 3,000 people. Researchers at Oxford University and other centres analysed the test results and found the device to be 86% accurate. Neuropad is already available in the UK through some diabetes specialists.

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