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Pair of Federal Grants Fund Studies on Diabetic Foot Ulcers and Prevention of Falls

Separate grants totaling $1.2 million from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense will help RFU researchers investigate barriers to foot health and mobility.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases awarded primary investigators Noah Rosenblatt, PhD, and Ryan Crews, PhD, a three-year, $848,596 grant to evaluate the impact of removable cast walker (RCW) designs on diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) healing. RCWs are commonly prescribed to treat DFUs. But low adherence to the treatment predicts poor DFU healing, according to Dr. Rosenblatt.

“Up to one-third of people living with diabetes will develop a diabetic foot ulcer within their lifetime,” said Dr. Rosenblatt, who works within RFU’s Center for Lower Extremity Ambulatory Research and also serves as associate dean of research for the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine. “Many of those will never heal and may require amputation. Our long-term goal is to optimize offloading adherence and subsequent DFU healing outcomes by considering not only how much the device offloads the DFU, but also how much the device’s design impacts the patient experience.”

Dr. Rosenblatt was also awarded a two-year, $349,999 grant from the Department of Defense’s Orthotic and Prosthetic Outcome Research Program for a study of the physical and mental health of service members and veterans who use prosthetics.

“As warfighters injured during recent conflicts continue to age, they will be faced with new physical and mental challenges that impact mobility, including increased fall risk,” Dr. Rosenblatt said. “We must support advances in rehabilitation across their lifespan.”

Dr. Rosenblatt’s team hopes to provide preliminary evidence that the socket trim line (how high the prosthetic socket comes up the leg) in people with transfemoral amputation can impact fall risk, and to ultimately promote enduring improvements in the physical and mental health of prosthetic users by reducing the prevalence and the burden of falls.

“Dr. Rosenblatt’s innovative research deserves this federal investment,” said RFU’s Executive Vice President of Research Ronald Kaplan, PhD. “We hope it leads to improvements in the quality of life for these important patient groups.”

Posted December 7, 2022
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