What makes a project like DiaSHOE so relevant?

What makes a project like DiaSHOE so relevant?
Exploring the added-value of DiaSHOE for the field of prophylactic shoes
An article by the International Shoe Competence Centre in Pirmasens (ISC/PFI), Germany

The pictures below illustrate two examples of approved prophylactic shoes for patients with diabetes. There is a safety shoe on left side and a walking shoe on the right side.

So, one might wonder: If specific footwear for people with diabetes already exists, why is a group of experts part of a european project like diashoe?

The answer is easy, we just need to look around us. For example, why do we frequently see advertising campaigns for new types of sports shoes, usually marketing the shoes' new special properties? Because health-oriented people with a keen interest in sport are always looking to purchase new and better shoes that better fulfil their needs and wishes. Such people have new options to choose from every season. So, why are we not developing new and better shoes for people with diabetes, so that they too can have more options to choose from every season?

Each country has basic standards outlining the minimum properties which must be met to market footwear for people with diabetes. The Erasmus+ DiaSHOE consortium's aim is to support producers who would like to go beyond minimum standards and be the best in making footwear for people with diabetes? Improving both knowledge and practices in diabetic footwear design and production will also help improve the quality of prophylactic shoes over time.

So, what are the specificities of the Diabetic Foot that make it necessary to wear well-suited footwear? To what particular aspects do footwear designers and producers have to pay attention when creating footwear for people with diabetes?

These are the main complications associated with the diabetic foot:

- Poor blood circulation
- Compromised nerve system (Peripheral Neuropathy)
- Change in bones and joints (Osteoarthropathies)
- Soft tissue atrophy - Ulcers and infections

These problems can lead to other complications. This is why the role of a prophylactic shoe is to protect the foot and extend the users' ability to lead an active lifestyle without suffering from foot complications.

These are well-known facts, but because materials and technologies are constantly evolving and improving, approaches to design and production of footwear products that really protect the feet of people with diabetes should also evolve. Standards for diabetic shoes were established many years ago, and, as previously mentioned, these standards are minimum requirements. The DiaSHOE team has started conducting experiments and found out that, in some cases, pieces of footwear in line with current established standards are not, in fact, well-suited to people with diabetes.

Below are two examples:

We trust that the DiaSHOE project can kindle exchanges of experience between footwear producers, medical experts, and people with diabetes and that it will lead to a wider variety of well-suited prophylactic footwear. Project partners are developing resources so that footwear makers can get detailed information on the most important elements to consider when developing prophylactic shoes. They will present recommendations on the most important areas to focus on when it comes to the actual production of prophylactic footwear and how to manage production lines so that the special properties of prophylactic footwear are protected. The project will also provide guidance on how to check the quality of prophylactic footwear, for example through internal audits.

Furthermore, sharing knowledge about how new materials and new technologies create new possibilities to better prevent and control complications associated with the diabetic foot with people with diabetes, medical experts, shoe-shop assistant and other people that are in a position to offer advice. Such advice on the best choice of prophylactic footwear will ensure that people with diabetes can select the right models of footwear for them and receive the best guidance from others.

We hope that the developed training material triggers both critical and creative thinking and that it will still be used by professionals in ten (or more!) years, but enhanced with new facts, findings and solutions.

Ultimately, we believe that DiaSHOE will help upgrade existing standards for prophylactic shoes and improve the quality of life of people with diabetes in the long run

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