Sheffield engineers Joshua Shires and Thomas Bloomfield have achieved a significant breakthrough in medical technology, addressing a crucial health issue in the United Kingdom, where over 4.8 million people suffer from diabetes.
Their company, Fyous, which began by developing bespoke footwear for runners, has now received a £1.4 million grant. This funding is a major step forward in the field, focusing on reducing diabetic amputations and improving diabetic care. Based in Sheffield, UK, the project responds to a growing need in diabetic healthcare.
Fyous: Pioneering Change for Diabetics
Fyous, led by Shires and Bloomfield, initially created custom footwear for runners using their polymorphic moulding technology to enhance athletic performance.
Recognising the potential of this technology for diabetic care, they shifted their focus to address diabetic neuropathy.
Detailed Impact on Diabetic Neuropathy
This nerve damage condition leads to a decrease in foot sensation, heightening the risk of unnoticed injuries that can progress to severe foot damage, ulcerations, and, in the most serious cases, amputations.
The technology developed by Fyous, led by Sheffield engineers, targets this critical health issue. Their solution, rooted in advanced polymorphic moulding technology, offers custom-fitted footwear specifically tailored to the unique contours of each diabetic patient’s feet. This personalised approach is crucial in diabetic foot care for several reasons:
1. Reduced Pressure Points
Traditional shoe fitting often fails to address the specific needs of diabetic feet, which may have areas of increased pressure due to changes in foot shape or loss of fat padding. The custom-fit shoes distribute weight and pressure more evenly, reducing the risk of pressure sores and ulcers.
2. Enhanced Comfort and Support
The precise fit ensures greater comfort, essential for patients who may not feel discomfort until it has caused significant damage. It also provides better support, correctly aligning the foot and preventing strain on other body parts.
3. Prevention of Ulceration and Injuries
By fitting the foot perfectly, the risk of rubbing and friction, which can lead to skin breakdown and ulcers, is significantly minimised. This is particularly important in neuropathy, where even minor injuries can develop into serious complications.
4. Early Detection of Problems
Such footwear might also aid in the early detection of potential issues. If a shoe starts fitting differently, it could indicate changes in the foot’s shape or new pressure points, prompting early medical intervention.
5. Customization for Individual Needs
Every diabetic foot is different. Some might have bony deformities, and others may have areas of significant fat pad loss. Fyous’ technology allows for creating shoes that consider these individual differences, something not feasible with standard shoe sizes.
The Clinical Trial and Future Prospects
The funding will also support an intensive 18-month clinical trial in collaboration with the Universities of Salford, Sheffield, and Leeds, two NHS Trusts, and two National Institute for Health and Care Research organisations. Dr Dinesh Selvarajah, a senior lecturer in diabetes at the University of Sheffield, oversees the trial.
The potential benefits of this project extend beyond patient care to include long-term cost savings for the NHS. With diabetic amputations reaching an all-time high, this innovation comes at a crucial time, offering a beacon of hope for those at risk of foot complications due to diabetes.
This initiative is a prime example of how technological innovation, driven by local talent and supported by national funding, can lead to significant advancements in healthcare, particularly in addressing chronic health conditions like diabetes.