UA’s SALSA Garners $2M in Research Funds to Fight Diabetic Amputation by Playing Video Games and Wearing Smart Sox

Two separate $1.1M research grants awarded this week will help the University of Arizona Department of Surgery’s Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA) continue their battle against diabetes-related amputations. “This gives our team even more inspiration to try to make a difference”, noted David G. Armstrong, Professor of Surgery, SALSA’s Director, and Principal Investigator on both grants. “In a time when so many worthwhile programs– including preventative podiatric care– are being cut, it’s heartening to receive the charge to seek out answers that cut to the core of diabetes and prevention of its complications.” The two proposals are characteristic of the “simplicity in technology” approach for which SALSA and it’s collaborative teams at Scholl’s Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research (CLEAR) and the Hamad Research Unit in Doha, Qatar, have become known. One proposal uses a “game based” approach to allow patients to use sophisticated video game-style therapies to play their way to improved balance, reduced falls, and reduced risk for complications. As Dr. Armstrong puts it, “It’s like a Nintendo WII for Diabetes– WII Feet, rather than WII Fit, if you will.” The other project uses state-of the art “smartsox”, wearable technology that can use microscopic woven fiber optic sensors to predict skin breakdown and warn the patient and caregivers well in advance. “Intelligent textiles have a great deal of promise”, noted Bijan Najafi, PhD, a key investigator on the study and CLEAR researcher. “We at CLEAR and SALSA believe that all of us will be wearing smart clothing of some sort by the middle of this decade.” The two studies, both funded on the same day, were funded by the Qatar National Research Foundation (QNRF) and will be conducted over the coming four years.

Photos above (from left)

Joseph L. Mills with David G. Armstrong, Bijan Najafi

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