500 partial and total leg amputations are performed in Malta each year

About 500 partial or complete leg amputations are performed each year in Malta, according to a professor of podiatry at the University of Malta.

Professor Alfred Gatt and Professor Cynthia Formosa, along with a team of podiatrists and engineers, are leading a project titled Smart Insole Technology for Diabetic Foot Management in collaboration with Mater Dei Hospital. The device they are developing will attempt to reduce the incidence of diabetic foot complications in people with diabetes.

“Diabetes causes many complications, one of which is in your feet. It can cause problems with your nerves – a condition called neuropathy, which can result in numbness, muscle weakness, and pain in that area. Malta independence on Sunday.

Gatt continued that about 40% of people with diabetes worldwide have neuropathy. The pressure from walking strains the foot, forming a sore that results in an ulcer that takes a very long time to heal. may lead to disconnection.

“The amputation of part or all of a limb has many implications for patients and their quality of life. Gat said.

“The world loses a limb every 20 seconds. But about 80% of ulcers can actually be prevented,” said Formosa, who said researchers could see more innovative solutions. I added that that’s why I tried to find the .

The device they are inventing monitors how a person walks and measures the amount of pressure caused by the feet, as well as the temperature that rises when there is inflammation.

It also uses artificial intelligence to determine the patient’s list classification, showing age, gender, blood pressure, temperature, blood sugar level, and how long the patient had diabetes.

“Something, somewhere is wrong. We have all the drugs, facilities, and state-of-the-art hospitals that are supposed to treat diabetes, but the number of amputations around the world is still high,” Formosa said.

Gat cited research that showed that the number of amputations was the same, if not more, when comparing amputation trends in the United States, Europe and Australia 25 years ago to today.

“We haven’t put into practice what we’ve learned. We’re still stuck in our old routines and habits and haven’t changed with the times,” said Gut, adding that even after the amputation, 5 He added that he could die within a year.

Formosa also says that when it comes to mortality, diabetic amputation is second only to lung cancer.

“When we hear the word ‘cancer’ we naturally get scared, but there are actually some silent diseases that are so prevalent that no one really cares about it when it comes to screening,” she said. said.

An innovative product her team is working on will act as a screening tool to detect incorrect foot patterns, she said. This goes a step further, as this screening allows for continuous monitoring of patients rather than having them screened only once a year.

Gatt said the device would be placed inside the shoe and would send information to experts to analyze the data and detect if something was wrong early on. He said AI software will also pick up new patterns.

“AI is a statistic, a number, a program that learns from itself. Once you start feeding it information from people, it will detect changes and differences between healthy and problem people,” Gut said.

“The more information you give it, which includes millions of datasets, the more it learns and identifies patterns,” he added.

Asked if the new product would be expected to reduce amputations at a rate, the professor said he could not say at this time because he had not tested it, but the goal was to save limbs, save lives, and reduce amputations. Said there was.

Gat said foot complications from diabetes are a serious concern in Malta, where more than 10% of the population has diabetes and 50,000 people. He also said there are about 500 amputations per year in Malta.

Gut says there has been a decline in major amputations involving the entire extremity or below the knee, but an increase in minor amputations such as removing the toe. This is only the beginning of further complications of the disease, resulting in other surgeries, more hospital visits, stress and trauma for patients and their families, and possibly more amputations.

Gatt and Formosa said the project will be completed in about two years as the first phase of the project is completed.

“At the moment, we have a clinical tool. It can walk, and then we plan to analyze the data and fully automate it for patients to use themselves,” Gatt said.

Gut said they would start by recruiting healthy patients who don’t have diabetes.

“In the meantime, we will continue to work with our engineers to develop it, which requires continuous development. .

Gut said their team includes well-qualified research support personnel, podiatrists, mechanical engineers, electronic engineers and computer engineers. He also said that the study is the result of many different studies conducted on master’s students at the university.

The project is funded by the Malta Science and Technology Council (MCST) through the Fusion R&I Technology Development Programme. Gut and Formosa appealed to diabetics to check their feet.

“Many of the changes that occur in diabetes are insidious. Even if there are arteries, you won’t notice anything.

“A lot of problems can be avoided if people just check their feet,” he said.

The Research, Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT) of the University of Malta is a trust fund to which businesses and people can donate for research.

Formosa said he welcomes companies and people interested in diabetic feet to sponsor or make donations to the work they are doing.

“Unfortunately, when funding stops, so does research. 500 partial and total leg amputations are performed in Malta each year

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