Deaths and complications that are directly related to insulin production are a major concern for diabetes sufferers, but correlated conditions can be just as bad. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) and peripheral neuropathy nerve damage often work in conjunction to make wounds on extremities — the feet in particular — go unnoticed. Relatively innocuous ulcers frequently become seriously infected, resulting in the necessary amputation of toes, feet, or lower legs, and sometimes even death. That’s why Ernesto Holguin built this Raspberry Pi-based device to monitor and dry foot ulcers.
Holguin is a nurse that has seen first-hand the complications that can arise from foot ulcers. PAD and peripheral neuropathy cause some people with diabetes to lose feeling in their feet, so they might not even notice that they have an ulcer. If they do, they can go to a clinic to have preliminary treatment, but then they’re sent home for roughly 30 days. In that time, the ulcer isn’t monitored, and it could become more severe.
The patented invention that Holguin created is an at-home solution for inspecting a patient’s foot and keeping it dry. It uses an inexpensive Raspberry Pi 3 to take photos of the feet, a dryer to reduce damaging moisture, and sensors to collect vital signs. With it, patients can inspect their own feet, and a clinician can monitor their healing progress remotely. It’s an affordable and effective solution to a major problem. In 2010, 73,000 adults in America had amputations as a result of diabetes, and Holguin’s invention could dramatically reduce that.