Eliminating diabetic foot ulcers, one step at a time

May 27, 2014

Every footstep is a risk for diabetics like Rudolph Blancarte.

Because diabetes can cause people to lose sensation in their feet, they often don’t feel pain from a developing wound. Something as innocuous as a pebble in their shoe can lead to a serious infection.

"The first time it happened, my foot swelled like a balloon and I couldn’t walk," said Blancarte, 56, of Fort Worth. "The second time, it turned into an abscess. It can be pretty miserable."

Metin Yavuz hopes to help end that misery. Dr. Yavuz, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy at UNT Health Science Center, is studying the forces that contribute to diabetic foot wounds, also known as ulcers, with the goal of designing devices that protect against them. He’s putting his Doctorate in Engineering to work as part of an interprofessional approach to addressing complex medical problems. 

Between 12 percent and 25 percent of diabetics develop an ulcer in their lifetime, Dr. Yavuz said. About 100,000 amputations are performed in the U.S. annually because of diabetic ulcers, at a cost of nearly $30 billion.

Currently available shoe inserts designed for diabetics too often are ineffective, Dr. Yavuz said. While research has generally focused on vertical forces that contribute to foot ulcers, Yavuz is interested in horizontal forces, also known as shear forces.

To measure these forces, Dr. Yavuz puts research participants like Blancarte on a unique electronic walkway.

"We live in a three-dimensional world," Dr. Yavuz said. "And three-dimensional forces are acting underneath the foot.  If we can confirm that horizontal forces are a big factor, we could design much more effective devices to prevent these ulcers from occurring."

Dr. Yavuz’s research, which is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, has been recognized by the American Society of Biomechanics.

Diana Cervantes. Assistant Professor Biostatistics & Epidemiology
Dr. Diana Cervantes named among Fort Worth’s ‘most influential’ for public health service during the pandemic

By Sally Crocker Dr. Diana Cervantes has spent the last year keeping people informed and updated on all things coronavirus, and now she’s being recognized as one of Fort Worth Inc.’s “400 Most Influential People” for helping protect the community’s health during the pandemic. Dr....Read more

Jun 8, 2021

Opal Lee photo by Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Celebrating Juneteenth

By Diane Smith-Pinckney On June 19 1865, Major General Gordan Granger marched into Galveston with a critical message: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”  This was the opening se...Read more

Jun 8, 2021

Dr. Scott Walters
The realities of ‘breaking bad’ and how one HSC researcher is attacking the opioid crisis

By Sally Crocker He didn’t know it at the time, but when Dr. Scott Walters was growing up in San Diego in the mid 1980s, a next-door neighbor was concealing a homemade meth lab just across the fence and mere steps away from his bedroom window. For quite some time, concerned parents in his fa...Read more

Jun 8, 2021

MET Building at UNTHSC
HSC Health Diabetes Education Service Merits ADA Recognition

The prestigious American Diabetes Association (ADA) Education Recognition Certificate for a quality diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) service was recently awarded to the HSC Health Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support Program. ADA believes that this service offers high...Read more

Jun 8, 2021