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Pressure Flow

Erika Howe and Michael Apollinaro

Background: The foot sole undergoes high, repetitive pressures during standing and gait over a lifetime, yet the skin tissue and sensory feedback remain viable throughout a lifetime.  

Purpose: Using a custom-built loading device and a blood flow camera to examine the real-time blood flow reactivity to sustained and repetitive loading profiles over the whole foot sole. 

Eligibility: Healthy, young adults (18-40yrs) with no known vascular, or neurological disorders. No history of smoking, and exercise and caffeine intake not permitted 24 hours prior to experiment.  


What has been found so far?

While the skin tissue and sensory feedback of the foot remain viable throughout a lifetime in healthy individuals, the same cannot be said for those with diabetes. Badnyk (2018) showed that diabetic patients have foot ulcers often associated with neuropathy, trauma, and peripheral artery occlusive disease. These factors contribute to the deformation of the foot, which increases the pressure on the foot during gait.

Additionally, Petrofsky et al. (2009) also showed that circulation in the hand, lower back, and foot was significantly reduced protective reactivity in diabetic patients in response to pressure. But whether this pressure-induced ischemia directly influences sensitivity measures remains unknown.

Where are we headed?

The Bent Neurophysiology Lab is aiming to examine blood flow reactivity and cutaneous sensitivity in the foot sole of healthy, young adults. The goal is to analyze these blood flow responses following a whole foot sole loading and how generating ischemia in the foot sole skin influences skin sensitivity measures.