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Personalised footwear study Personalised footwear study

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Personalised footwear for foot ulcers

Lepra’s innovative new project using technology to improve footwear for people affected by leprosy and lymphatic filariasis (LF)

Lepra has piloted an innovative footwear study focussing on ulcer prevention and investigating how digital technology can improve the effectiveness of customised protective footwear for people affected by leprosy and LF.

The facts

Ulcers are common among people affected by sensation loss due to leprosy. One of the contributing factors is uneven foot pressure. When walking, high pressure is exerted in areas of the feet, which can cause repetitive stress and damage, resulting in ulcers. If left untreated, or if there is continuous stress on one foot, ulcers can lead to further damage, infections and permanent disability.  Having custom-made footwear takes the pressure off such areas and restores balance. It also helps to reduce the occurrence of ulcers and speed up healing of existing wounds. This in turn allows people to quickly return to their daily lives, and an improvement in wellbeing.

What are we doing?

Lepra’s India team wanted to investigate if baropedometry could further increase the effectiveness of our footwear in reducing ulcers and disability. Barpedometry uses new technologies to allow our foot technicians to create an accurate picture of weight distribution using pressure plates.

Lepra’s Blue Peter Public Health and Research Centre in Hyderabad, Lepra UK and highly experienced Lepra teams working within Indian communities are conducting a study with funding from the Leprosy Research Initiative (LRI). Working with 36 self-support groups across three states in India, 50% of attendees are randomly selected to have their footprints taken on location, and then digitally enhanced at Lepra Referral Centre where customised shoes are being handcrafted by trained shoe technicians. The entire process, from footwear measurements being taken to delivering the customised footwear to participants takes a maximum of 10 days. The remaining study participants are issued with our traditionally made custom footwear, which is also delivered within 10 days. Wound care training is also being provided to all 36 self-support groups and local government health care centres. Their skills will be assessed, and ongoing support provided.

The aim

After nine months, a comparative assessment will investigate which type of footwear was more successful at preventing foot ulcers and/or led to faster healing of existing ulcers.

The hope is that new technological approaches such as this, will not only improve rates of recovery from injury, but will actually help prevent injuries and ulcers from developing in the first instance.  

How can you help?

£6 can pay for a pair of protective shoes for a person affected by leprosy and LF.

You can make a difference

Your support is vital in helping us continue our work to help the children, women and men affected by neglected diseases like leprosy and lymphatic filariasis.

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