The Top Tech to Help You Manage Your Diabetes

When it comes to managing your diabetes, I know it can seem like there’s a lot of work you have to do: following a special diet. Keeping track of your glucose levels. Carefully monitoring your carbohydrate intake, meal sizes and activity levels. Not to mention all the specialists you have to visit regularly—your endocrinologists, podiatrist, dentist and general doctor, just to name the top four.

 

The good news is that, every day, new and exciting technology is in the works to help you keep your diabetes in good control. Here are some of the latest innovations we’re watching closely in my Houston podiatry practice.

 

App that Works with AlexaThe Sugarpod will work with Amazon's Alexa to track your diabetic foot health


Here’s a product designed to help improve diabetic foot care at home, and it’s intended to work with your family’s best electronic friend— Amazon’s Alexa!

As winner of the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, the Sugarpod (which consists of a scale, a foot scanner, and a mobile interface along with its Amazon Alexa voice functionality) is designed to support type 2 diabetes care plans by integrating engagement and regular screening into a patient’s daily routine.  

According to Anne Weiler, CEO and co-founder of Wellpepper (the group behind the Sugarpod), “First thing in the morning, [a user] steps on the scale. It takes her weight and then it also asks if it can take pictures of her feet, and then it puts those through a machine-learning image classifier that looks for problems. It’s basically looking for early indication of diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulcers cost the health system $9 billion a year, and people who have them are at greater risk of amputation, hospitalization, and even death.”

I love pretty much everything about this product! Not only does it appeal to my inner-techie, but it also seems like a pretty great way to monitor your diabetes between visits to your wellness team! Be sure and check this one out!

 

A Mat that Fights Foot Ulcers

A group of engineering students at Jackson State University have developed a product that could help diabetics prevent the development of ulcers on their feet. Technology is cool, but checking your own feet is always the first and best line of defense for diabetics

When researching ways to prevent foot amputations associated with diabetic complications, the students at JSU noted colder foot temperature was a predictor of the peripheral nerve damage that can make people lose sensation in their feet. Once loss of feeling sets in for diabetics, wounds may go unnoticed, making ulcers a more likely complication.

Realizing the chain of effects that a drop in foot temperature could set off for diabetics, the students designed their mat to l

ink up to an App that keeps track of daily foot temperatures. If used daily, the mat could act as an early warning system for circulation problems and nerve damage, encouraging diabetics to be more vigilant in their daily foot exams and regular podiatrist visits.

Socks That Work Wonders

Here’s yet another fancy foot detector to help you manage your diabetes. I’m podiatrist-famous for saying, “It all starts with the socks”—it’s true for finding your perfect shoe fit, it’s true for runners and now, thanks to a bunch of innovative scientists, it continues to be true for diabetics. Introducing the SenseGO ‘smart socks.’ A group of students from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem has designed these socks to detect areas of pressure on your feet and then relay that information to an app on your smart phone. When you have diabetes, extra pressure on your feet can result in the development of wounds, which can become limb-threatening ulcers if left untreated.

The socks, (which are machine washable, by the way) use dozens of micro-fabricated pressure sensors to detect potential problem areas and send an alert to the patient’s phone. While pressure-sensing insoles are already available on the market, this would be the first product to detect press

ure changes on any area of the foot, not just the sole.

The SenseGo socks are not yet available to the public: in the meantime, daily foot exams and frequent visits with your podiatrist are an absolute must to protect your feet from diabetes-related complications.

In fact, while all these cool technological advances for diabetics are exciting (and, let’s face it, a little fun), they should always be viewed as supportive devices. No piece of tech, no matter how cool it may be, can replace comprehensive exams with your own eyes and with your doctor’s expert gaze. Having said that, however, they can certainly help shoulder the burden of your care—and some may even spot issues before they become visible to the naked eye! In that case, I certainly celebrate diabetics getting connected!

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.