How It Works

The noninvasive Podimetrics Mat can detect development of diabetic foot ulcers five to six weeks before they would ordinarily present. When diabetic patients stand on the mat, radiation-free thermal imaging measures the temperature of their feet. An elevation in temperature indicates that an ulcer may be forming.

“Since 2004, research suggests that temperature-monitoring may be an effective way to predict, thus prevent, diabetic foot ulceration,” Robbins said. “If not detected early, diabetic ulcers can lead to serious complications including complex infections, amputations and sometimes death.”

Temperature readings can be done in 20 seconds. The temperature scans are sent by a cellular unit built into the mat to the manufacturer, which has nurses looking for temperature spikes. When they see an elevated temperature, they call the veteran to discuss what might be happening, Robbins said. If the temperature spikes continue, the nurses alert the veteran’s provider at the VA, who will contact the veteran to come into the clinic for an assessment.

In one recent instance in Richmond, VA, the company saw a temperature spike two days in a row. “They learned the veteran had been playing nine to 18 holes of golf with family each day,” Robbins told U.S. Medicine. “When he went into the clinic, the podiatrist found a callous had developed and the skin was breaking down under that callous. Nothing looked or felt different, but the system alerted the podiatrist to a problem. The callous was removed, preventing what could have been a significant ulcer if not caught early.”

Identifying foot ulcers in diabetic patients before they become problematic can be tricky. Many people who have had diabetes for an extended period develop neuropathy, nerve damage that reduces the ability to feel pain in the feet. Vascular disease, a common comorbidity with diabetes, and high glucose levels can impair the body’s ability to heal wounds and increase the risk of infection.

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