Last updated: October 2016
For my graduate research, I am developing a device to screen for diabetic neuropathy in low-resource settings, particularly rural India.
India has the highest number of diabetics in the world. A common complication of diabetes is neuropathy, which is nerve damage that typically leads to loss of sensation in the feet and is a major cause of foot ulcers and leg amputations. A key limitation to current screening and ulcer prevention in rural India is the impracticality of current diagnostic equipment, which is expensive, bulky and requires trained operators. Consequently, the majority of the Indian diabetic population in low-resource settings is currently not being tested for neuropathy.
The Mobile-Enabled Diabetic Foot Analyzer (m-DFA) is a portable neuropathy screening device that provides quantitative information about a diabetic patient’s foot sensation. It connects wirelessly to a mobile phone or tablet, which records and tracks data on a periodic, per-person and per-visit basis. The device can be easily operated by community health workers with minimal technical background in remote environments.
The m-DFA evaluates a person’s nerve function by determining the Vibration Perception Threshold (VPT) at a given point. VPT is defined as the lowest intensity of vibration that a person is able to feel at the application location. A probe, which vibrates at a fixed frequency of ~100 Hz, touches the skin. The vibration amplitude slowly increases until the person feels the vibration. The amplitude at that point is the VPT. Higher than normal VPT is an indication of neuropathy.
I am working under the guidance of Dr. Mandayam A. Srinivasan of TouchLab in the Research Laboratory of Electronics and Dr. Mohan Thanikachalam of Tufts Medical Center and Agada Hospital. The project is funded by the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design.