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Israeli Smart Socks Defend Against Diabetic Ulcers and Amputations

February 17, 2016

“You will again obey the Lord and follow all His commands I am giving you today.  Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land.”  (Deuteronomy 30:8–9)

Israel continues to make the world a better place for everyone.  Most recently, Israel has developed a smart sock for diabetic patients.

For 4–10% of these patients, foot ulcers form without warning, but a new washable smart sock out of Israel can help prevent this by monitoring and alerting patients to the warning signs before the onset of this leading cause of amputations.

The intelligent SenseGo sock emerged as a solution to diabetics’ foot ulcers out of the efforts of members of the BioDesign: Medical Innovation program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI). 

Diabetes, foot ulcers, Israel

SenseGo socks, developed at the Hebrew University, integrate wearable technology that senses diabetic neuropathy and helps to prevent foot ulcers in diabetic patients.  The information gathered is sent to the wearer’s smartphone for monitoring.  (YouTube capture)

The BioDesign group’s lead engineer, Danny Bavli, who operates out of Hebrew University’s Alexander Grass Center for Bioengineering, describes the SenseGo sock as “an intelligent, machine-washable sock that continually measures stress [and] oxygen situation levels during everyday activity.”

“SenseGo offers patients and physicians … critical information that can be used to minimize or even eliminate the occurrence of diabetic ulcers,” Bavli says in a video describing the SenseGo product.

“By giving patients and their families the tools they need to prevent the development of ulcers, we can dramatically reduce health care costs related to diabetes,” BioDesign program co-director Prof. Yaakov Nahmias told reporters, describing SenseGo as “a classic mobile health approach.”

“The novelty of our technology is the 3D organization of the sensors, which is important for clinical problems where the foot deforms over time,” Nahmias said.  (Times of Israel)

Addressing the great need of close monitoring for diabetics before bigger problems occur, the SenseGo socks relay information “to the patient’s smart phone, providing real-time information on over-exertion, incorrect posture and ill-fitting shoes,” says Sagi Frishman of The Peter Brojde Center for Innovative Engineering and Computer Science.

“This is a significant medical problem that affects the lives of millions.  We thought there must be a way to avoid these wounds altogether,” Bavli said.  (Arutz Sheva)

The sock emerged from a partnership between Bavli’s BioDesign group; Sagi Frishman, an expert in computer communications, optics, and experimental physics; and Dr. David Morgenstern, a top orthopedic surgeon at the university’s affiliated Hadassah Medical Center.

“Diabetic neuropathy (disease or dysfunction of the nerves) affects over 130 million people worldwide and it is the main factor associated with the development of foot ulcers,” Morgenstern explained.  (SenseGo)

In fact, according to Medical Daily, 70 percent of diabetics in the US suffer from diabetic neuropathy, which causes tingling or numbness, “affecting how patients feel pain and increasing risk for injuries.”

“Foot ulcers develop due to anatomical deformation, excessive pressure and poor blood supply,” Morgenstern added.

Medical Daily recommends “removing dead skin and tissue from the feet to get to the ulcer — taking pressure off the ulcer by wearing special shoes or braces, and wrapping the foot up in dressings that will help to manage the wound.”

Where diabetic ulcers are the lead cause of hospital stays and amputations, amputations themselves cost the United States economy more than $10 billion per year, according to Morgenstern.

MBA students at Hebrew University, Yael Hadar and Inbal Boxerman are also members of the BioDesign SenseGo team.  The BioDesign program is co-directed by Nahmias, director of the Alexander Grass Center for Engineering and Prof. Chaim Lotan, director of the Heart Institute at Hadassah Medical Center.

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