In the field of diabetes care, the integration of telehealth has emerged as an important advancement, particularly in addressing the unique challenges linked to diabetic foot health. This includes the risk of ulcerations and amputations.

Telehealth encompasses a wide range of health services delivered through technology, including clinical services such as telemedicine and non-clinical services such as health education and remote monitoring of vital signs.

To address these challenges, a collaborative team of researchers from diverse specialisations at the University of Malta (UM) developed an in-shoe system that enables continuous monitoring of the diabetic foot through the Smart Insole Technology.

The team of researchers developed a wearable insole equipped with temperature sensors for patients to use daily. The system can transmit real-time data to healthcare providers, allowing for proactive identification of potential issues. Timely intervention not only aids in preventing diabetic episodes but also significantly reduces the risk of complications that could lead to severe consequences, including amputations.

By simply wearing these insoles, foot health data transmitted to a smartphone app will provide the wearer valuable insights into their foot health in real time, promoting self-management and fostering a proactive approach to their overall well-being.

Telehealth encompasses a wide range of health services delivered through technology

Moreover, clinicians accessing this data will help identify possible foot complications related to diabetes, such as foot ulcerations and amputations, ahead of time for immediate management and more personalised care.

This innovative approach to healthcare, applicable in both a diagnostic and continuous care setting, empowers medical professionals to monitor and care for patients remotely, limiting the need for regular physical clinical or hospital visits. Not only does this streamline the medical process but it also allows patients to lead their lives in a more normative manner.

This integration of telehealth in diabetes care, particularly concerning the diabetic foot, is vital. With this emerging and innovative technology, research at the UM aims not only to elevate the quality of patient care but also to revolutionise the management of a condition that necessitates consistent attention and vigilance.

The AFTDA project is composed of the following members: Owen Falzon, Mark Borg from the Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics; Stephen Mizzi, Tiziana Mifsud, Robert Farrugia from the Faculty of Health Sciences; and Josef Bajada from the Faculty of ICT.

The AFTDA project (Analysis of Foot Temperature Data) is funded by the Malta Council for Science & Technology (MCST), for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology through the Fusion: R&I Technology Development Programme.

Robert Farrugia is a physiotherapist, researcher at UM.

Sound Bites

•        Revolutionising diabetes monitoring with painless wearable patch.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada are developing a wearable patch that uses micro-needles to monitor glucose and ketone levels in individuals with type 1 diabetes. The patch eliminates the need for daily finger pricks or urine tests and wirelessly transmits real-time data to smartphones, making monitoring blood sugar levels and preventing complications easier.

•        Scientists achieve potential breakthrough in type 1 diabetes treatment.

Researchers at Rice University have developed a new screening method for biomaterial formulations, successfully encapsulating human insulin-secreting islet cells in diabetic mice using a single alginate formulation. This could lead to a more sustainable treatment for type 1 diabetes with long-term blood sugar regulation. The ‘barcoding’ technique used in this approach could also have extensive medical uses and improve diabetes treatment.

For more soundbites, click on: Malta.


•        The hormone insulin was initially extracted from the pancreas of dogs before human insulin production methods were developed.

•        The first successful pancreas transplant, a procedure crucial for treating diabetes, occurred in 1966.

•        According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are over 40,000 people, between the ages of 20 and 79, living with diabetes in Malta.

•        The most recent data report in 2019 predicted that nearly half of the Maltese population will be affected by 2045.

•        In Malta, 400 people annually lose part of their foot due to diabetes.

•        A survey conducted in 2019 in Malta on 300 diabetic patients found that 37 per cent of them visit a podiatrist six times a year or more.

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