A recent study by a Diabetes Research Centre in India has shown that nearly 80 per cent of diabetic patients with foot infections had considerable improvement when they followed safe practices advised by their doctors. The study was conducted as a result of doctors discovering that many patients came to the Centre with advanced neuropathy and often had to undergo amputation to save their lives. They decided that a little change in lifestyle and proper foot care would help avoid these problems.
The study examined 1,660 patients in the 'high risk' category between September 2001 and October 2002 to study diabetes related foot problems like neuropathy, deformity and simple infections. Of the group, 1123 had problems like neuropathy and deformity and 533 patients suffered from infections. It was found that there was considerable improvement in the foot condition among those patients who followed 'good foot care' practices while those patients who did not follow advice showed poor improvement. Recovery took as long as 95 days and a higher percentage of patients reported new infections and required surgery.
The study, which was a part of a larger initiative for a Diabetic Foot Clinic at the hospital found that good foot care practice was achieved by proper education and constant motivation of the patients and their families. For this the hospital formed a team called the foot care team, consisting of a diabetologist, foot care educator, general surgeon, vascular and orthopaedic surgeon and orthotist. The foot care team advised patients to examine feet daily for injuries, soak heels in warm water for about 10 minutes and scrap them with a pumice stone, avoid extremes of temperature, wear cotton or woolen socks at night in order to keep the feet warm and wear well fitting leather shoes. One of the important things that the patients were asked to remember was to wear footwear at all times.