In the black community, diabetes is often referred to as sugar. In fact, it wasn’t until I was a young adult that I heard of the term diabetes, when I learned from my father that his grandfather had sugar, or diabetes, and had to have his leg amputated.
Over 25% of all US adults over 65 have diabetes, and each year, over 100,000 limbs are lost to amputation because people with diabetes cannot feel their feet and don’t realize they have a foot ulcer, which can lead to infection and then amputation if left untreated. This is a scary statistic.
Compared to the general population, African Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes: 13.2% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older are diagnosed with diabetes; and African Americans are also 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. One of my greatest fears is seeing my parents and older relatives undergo amputation as a result of a diagnosis of diabetes. However, I have learned that most amputations are preventable.
Siren was started to to help prevent unnecessary amputations. It is a female-founded startup whose founder graduated from Northwestern’s esteemed biotechnology program, and it has just created a new smart sock, which helps people with diabetes monitor their foot health.
The Siren sock uses a flexible, discreet, washable “Neurofabric” embedded with microsensors stitched directly into the cloth, and the fabric is moisture-wicking and comfortable to wear. My favorite detail of the smart sock is that it monitors foot temperature, and we can use a companion app to track temperature changes over time. It alerts users of such changes via push notification, or a phone call if the user doesn’t have a smartphone. The push notification can also alert users about potential inflammation, telling them to take off their shoes, get off their feet, and alleviate the pressure immediately.
The people who are most prone to diabetic foot ulcers and amputations are our most vulnerable populations – the frail, elderly and those suffering from obesity and cardiovascular-related diseases. Though caring for elderly parents can be a tremendous responsibility for children, it becomes easier knowing there there are new tech products that will make monitoring the aging process easier.
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