Experts recommend simple test to reduce amputation risk in older people

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Care home operators are being urged to take advantage of an easy-to-use test that flags up foot complications in people with diabetes that can lead to amputation.

Neuropad, a 10-minute test that warns of nerve damage in the feet, is included in national guidance aimed at helping care home staff manage their residents with diabetes.

The guidelines, which have been drawn up by the National Advisory Panel on Care Home Diabetes (NAPCHD), includes details of foot risk assessment tools which can help care staff with the examination and monitoring of feet. Regular screening for sensory loss in feet is crucial in reducing the risk of diabetes-related foot disease and amputation.

One such tool is Neuropad, which sticks to the soles of the feet like a sticking plaster and checks for early signs of nerve damage – peripheral neuropathy – by detecting minute quantities of sweat.

Early identification of nerve damage means treatment can start early and reduces the risk of serious complications, including ulceration and amputation.

The care home guidance points to Neuropad as being “an easy to administer non-invasive and painless test” which flags up ‘at-risk’ feet, triggering further peripheral neuropathy assessment tests.

The NAPCHD guidance also highlights that Neuropad requires “little training and education by care home staff and does not on rely on subjective reporting”. The authors also say Neuropad can be used on residents who may not be able to communicate verbally, due to dementia or sensory disorders, and those who may have difficulties attending foot clinics.

The NAPCHD is chaired by Professor Alan Sinclair, of King’s College London and the Foundation for Diabetes Research in Older People (fDROP).

John Simpson is the managing director of Skyrocket Phytopharma, which supplies Neuropad, and is working closely with care home groups with a view to getting the test adopted as standard practice in care home and residential settings.

He said: “For Neuropad to be included in such important guidelines as these, demonstrates what a valuable tool it can be. The team behind the guidance is made up of experts in their field, so we’re proud that Neuropad features in this vital toolkit designed to help improve the lives of care home residents with diabetes.

“Care home staff do not require any specialist training to carry out this quick, painless test that has the potential to save a foot. It is also heartening that the guidelines acknowledge that Neuropad is useful for residents who may struggle to communicate any problems they are experiencing with their feet.

“The poor five-year survival rates of people who undergo lower limb amputation speak for themselves, so it is imperative nerve damage is identified before serious issues take hold. The Neuropad test gives people a better chance of avoiding serious foot complications that arise from nerve damage.”

The guidance, A Strategic Document of Diabetes Care For Care Homes, can be viewed here.

Find out more about Neuropad here.

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