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1.  Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy and Gait: Does Footwear Modify This Association? 
Gait-related fall risk is the leading cause of mortality among patients with diabetes, especially those older than 65 years. Deterioration in balance and loss of protective sensation in lower extremities contribute significantly to fall risk in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). This study aimed to explore the impact of neuropathy and foot ulcer on gait.
We recruited 39 participants (age, 56.9 ± 8.2 years; body mass index, 29.6.3 ± 4.7 kg/m2), including 15 DPN patients without foot ulcers, 16 DPN patients with foot ulcers, and 8 healthy aged-matched controls. Patients with active foot ulcers wore an offloading device during gait examination, including removable cast walker.
Results suggest that neuropathy alters gait mainly by increasing gait initiation, gait variability (coefficient of variation of gait velocity), and double support (DS) time, while reducing knee range of motion and center of mass sway (p < .05). Interestingly, the presence of foot ulcer does not impact gait velocity (p > .1) but enhances some of the gait parameters such as gait variability and DS time.
This study demonstrates that neuropathy deteriorates gait, but the presence of foot ulcers does not alter gait parameters further than neuropathy. In addition, patients with foot ulcers demonstrated a better gait compared with DPN patients without ulcers. We speculate that offloading footwear may be enhancing the somatosensory feedback from sensate skin, thereby positively affecting gait parameters. A study with a larger sample is required to explore the effect of prescribed footwear in the DPN population in order to validate the findings of this research study.
PMCID: PMC3876356  PMID: 24124939
diabetes; foot ulcer; gait; offloading; wearable sensors
2.  Virtualizing the Assessment: A Novel Pragmatic Paradigm to Evaluate Lower Extremity Joint Perception in Diabetes 
Gerontology  2012;58(5):463-471.
Persons with diabetes have a higher risk of falls and fall related injuries. People with diabetes often develop peripheral neuropathy (DPN) as well as nerve damage throughout the body. In particular, reduced lower extremity proprioception due to DPN may cause a misjudgment of foot position and thus increase the risk of fall.
An innovative virtual obstacle crossing (VOC) paradigm using wearable sensors was developed in attempt to assess lower extremity position perception damage due to DPN.
Sixty-seven participants (Age: 55.4±8.9; BMI: 28.1±5.8) including diabetes with and without DPN as well as aged matched healthy controls were recruited. Severity of neuropathy was quantified using vibratory perception threshold (VPT) test. The ability of perception of lower extremity was quantified by measuring obstacle crossing success rate (OCSR), toe-obstacle clearance (TOC), and reaction time (TR) while crossing a series of virtual obstacles with heights at 10% and 20% of the subject’s leg length.
No significant difference was found between groups for age and BMI. The data revealed that DPN subjects had a significantly lower OCSR compared to diabetes with no neuropathy and controls at obstacle size of 10% (p<0.05). DPN subjects also demonstrated longer TR compared to other groups and for both obstacle sizes. In addition TOC was reduced in neuropathy groups. Interestingly, a significant correlation between TR and VPT (r=0.5, p<10-5) was observed indicating delay in reaction by increasing neuropathy severity. The delay becomes more pronounced by increasing the size of obstacle. Using regression model suggests that the change in reaction time between obstacle sizes of 10% and 20% of leg size is the most sensitive predictors for neuropathy severity with an odds ratio of 2.70 (p=0.02).
The findings demonstrate proof of concept of virtual reality application as a promising method for objective assessment of neuropathy severity, however; a further study is warranted to establish a stronger relationship between the measured parameters and neuropathy.
PMCID: PMC3955209  PMID: 22572476
Virtual Reality; Diabetes Peripheral Neuropathy; Lower Extremity Joint Perception; Body Worn Sensors; Fall Prevention; Obstacle crossing
3.  Electrical stimulation to accelerate wound healing 
Diabetic Foot & Ankle  2013;4:10.3402/dfa.v4i0.22081.
There are several applications of electrical stimulation described in medical literature to accelerate wound healing and improve cutaneous perfusion. This is a simple technique that could be incorporated as an adjunctive therapy in plastic surgery. The objective of this review was to evaluate the results of randomized clinical trials that use electrical stimulation for wound healing.
We identified 21 randomized clinical trials that used electrical stimulation for wound healing. We did not include five studies with treatment groups with less than eight subjects.
Electrical stimulation was associated with faster wound area reduction or a higher proportion of wounds that healed in 14 out of 16 wound randomized clinical trials. The type of electrical stimulation, waveform, and duration of therapy vary in the literature.
Electrical stimulation has been shown to accelerate wound healing and increase cutaneous perfusion in human studies. Electrical stimulation is an adjunctive therapy that is underutilized in plastic surgery and could improve flap and graft survival, accelerate postoperative recovery, and decrease necrosis following foot reconstruction.
PMCID: PMC3776323  PMID: 24049559
diabetic foot ulcer; electric stimulation therapy; treatment outcome; perfusion; infection
4.  Plantar Temperature Response to Walking in Diabetes with and without Acute Charcot: The Charcot Activity Response Test 
Journal of Aging Research  2012;2012:140968.
Objective. Asymmetric plantar temperature differences secondary to inflammation is a hallmark for the diagnosis and treatment response of Charcot foot syndrome. However, little attention has been given to temperature response to activity. We examined dynamic changes in plantar temperature (PT) as a function of graduated walking activity to quantify thermal responses during the first 200 steps. Methods. Fifteen individuals with Acute Charcot neuroarthropathy (CN) and 17 non-CN participants with type 2 diabetes and peripheral neuropathy were recruited. All participants walked for two predefined paths of 50 and 150 steps. A thermal image was acquired at baseline after acclimatization and immediately after each walking trial. The PT response as a function of number of steps was examined using a validated wearable sensor technology. The hot spot temperature was identified by the 95th percentile of measured temperature at each anatomical region (hind/mid/forefoot). Results. During initial activity, the PT was reduced in all participants, but the temperature drop for the nonaffected foot was 1.9 times greater than the affected side in CN group (P = 0.04). Interestingly, the PT in CN was sharply increased after 50 steps for both feet, while no difference was observed in non-CN between 50 and 200 steps. Conclusions. The variability in thermal response to the graduated walking activity between Charcot and non-Charcot feet warrants future investigation to provide further insight into the correlation between thermal response and ulcer/Charcot development. This stress test may be helpful to differentiate CN and its response to treatment earlier in its course.
PMCID: PMC3413979  PMID: 22900177

Results 1-4 (4)