Researchers connected with Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the UMass. Medical School are gearing up to run a pilot study on a new smartphone app that tracks the progress of foot ulcers in diabetics.
The app, which runs on the Android platform, allows patients to snap pictures of the ulcer at home with their smartphones. Algorithms then analyze the images to determine if the ulcer is healing or worsening.
The app, called Sugar, also helps patients monitor their blood sugar levels and weight by wirelessly integrating with personal glucose meters and weight scales. The app can also track physical activity and send reminders to patients about testing their glucose levels or sticking with an exercise program.
“A key feature of the app is its ability to track the wound area and healing status, then report the information in a format easy for patients and their caregivers to understand. For the first time, this system will give patients the ability to play an active role in their wound care," wound-analysis program lead developer Peder Pedersen said in prepared remarks.
The study, which will be conducted by the medical school, will track 30 patients using the app to monitor foot ulcers over approximately 6 weeks. Patient data will then be compared with foot ulcer patients who didn’t use the app. WPI said the study will likely run through most of 2015.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about 29 million Americans have diabetes, with another estimated 86 million suffering from high blood sugar. Foot ulcers, which can lead to life-threatening infections, are a common complication of the disease and a leading cause of lower-limb amputations. Of the approximately 73,000 lower-limb amputations performed annually on diabetics in the U.S., around 80% are due to complications from foot ulcers.