NC State is seeking a licensee to commercialize a pressure sensitive sock for early diagnosis of pressure exerted by footwear. This technology is protected by US Patent Number 6,918,883.
Diabetic foot lesions are an underlying cause of hospitalization, disability, morbidity and mortality, particularly among elderly patients. The development of a diagnostic for early-stage plantar ulcers would be of great value in decreasing and preventing diabetic foot amputation.
A group of researchers led by Dr. David Hinks at NC State have developed a sock that has a coating for detecting pressure points on the foot of a patient with diminished sensation. The sock can be coated with a pressure-sensitive film comprised of a photoluminescent probe. The areas of increased pressure can be detected by simply exposing the film to a light source capable of exciting the probe molecules. Alternatively, the sock can be coated with a coloring agent or dye such that the dye transfers to the pressure points in the foot, after the sock has been worn for a period of time. The present invention, which was developed in collaboration with Dr. James Horton of Cannon Research Institute of Carolinas Medical Center, is particularly applicable to patients with diabetic neuropathic feet wherein portions of feet may be insensitive to pressure. Early detection of such pressure points will allow for treatment to prevent more severe complications such as plantar ulcers which frequently result in amputations. Additionally, patient’s shoes can be altered to relieve the pressure.
A cheap and easy method for detection of pressure points.
A method for detection of pressure points in real time while the patient is wearing his/her own shoes.
The socks can detect increased pressure all over the foot - not just in the sole of the foot.
The socks can also be used for detection of pressure points in cancer or alcoholic patients.
Improved quality of life for patients.
Reduced cost for prevention and curative care of patients with neuropathic feet.
About the inventors:
Dr. David Hinks is Professor in the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University. He obtained his Ph. D. and B. Sc. from University of Leeds, U.K. Dr Hinks’s current research is focused in the areas of color perception and measurement; dyestuff design, synthesis and application including modeling of dye-fiber interactions.
Dr. James Horton is a faculty in the Cannon Research Institute of Carolinas Medical Center. He did his MD from Duke University and fellowship from University of Florida. His interests include education of students and residents, general infectious diseases as well as HIV.