I was hired by an early-stage medical device startup to explore mechanisms for delivering an experimental diabetes therapy.
The product focused on peripheral neuronal degeneration, which is responsible for a huge portion of the amputations performed on people with diabetes. The core problem is that reduced circulation in the extremities causes wounds to heal very slowly. Patients need to get regular physical activity to stay healthy, but small injuries to the foot can quickly turn into extensive wounds with infection compounding the problem. Numbness caused by PND means that an injury can go unnoticed and untreated until it is beyond recovery, when amputation becomes the only option.
Their solution hinges on a particular therapy that can be delivered through an insole to resuscitate the nerves in the foot, and renew some sensation. I was brought on to prototype and test solutions that were compliant enough to be worn for long periods of time when the patient was both sedentary and walking. My research centered around high frequency actuators encapsulated in compliant housings that could be scaled for mass manufacture.