Drug Discov Ther. 2022;16(4):169-176. (DOI: 10.5582/ddt.2022.01050)

Development of a self-monitoring tool for diabetic foot prevention using smartphone-based thermography: Plantar thermal pattern changes and usability in the home environment

Qin Q, Nakagami G, Ohashi Y, Dai M, Sanada H, Oe M


Thermography is a well-known risk-assessment tool for diabetic foot ulcers but is not widely used in the home setting due to the influence of the complicated home environment on thermographic images. This study investigated changes in thermographic images in complicated home environments to determine the feasibility of smartphone-based thermography in home settings. Healthy volunteers (age > 20 years) were recruited and required to take plantar thermal images using smartphone-based thermography attached to a selfie stick at different times of the day for 4 days. The thermal images and associated activities and environmental factors were then analyzed using content analysis. Areas with the highest temperature on the plantar thermal images were described and categorized. Device usability was evaluated using 10-point Likert scales, with 10 representing the highest satisfaction. A total of 140 plantar thermal images from 10 participants were analyzed. In 12 classifications, the three commonest patterns based on the highest temperature location were medial arch (42.1%), whole plantar (10.7%), and forefoot and medial arch (7.9%). The medial arch pattern is most frequently seen after awakening (67.5%) compared to other time points. Device usability was rated 7.5 out of 10 on average. This study was the first to investigate the plantar thermal patterns in the home settings, and the medial arch pattern was the most common hot area, which matches previous findings in well-controlled clinical settings. Therefore, smartphone-based thermography may be feasible as a self-assessment tool in the home setting.

KEYWORDS: Diabetic foot ulcer, home monitoring, home nursing care, prevention care, self-management

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