Restoring balance

Peripheral neuropathy, the damage to nerves in hands and feet, is one of the most common diabetes-related complications but one side-effect people may be unaware of is the fact that peripheral neuropathy makes it harder for people to maintain their balance. This can make them susceptible to falls.

Now Dr Anna Hatton, from the University of Queensland, is leading a study into whether a textured shoe insole could help improve people’s balance.

The study is supported by a grant from the Diabetes Australia Research Trust. “Nerve damage – like the kind caused by peripheral neuropathy – can disrupt the way signals are transmitted from the body, in this case the feet, to the brain,” Dr Hatton says.

“These signals are one way our body helps us keep our balance. So when those signals get disrupted, it is more difficult to remain stable and upright.

“What I’m studying is insoles with different patterned surfaces, which have raised nodules that are designed to stimulate skin sensors on the sole of the foot.

“The idea is to increase the amount of sensory information people have at their feet which may be able to help improve balance in people with diabetes.”

Find out how you can support research like Dr Hatton’s here.