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According to the American Diabetes Association, 9.3% of the U.S. population had diabetes in 2012. Among Americans over 65, the rate was 25.9%. Lower limb amputation is one of the more common among the nasty complications of diabetes. We experienced this first hand with my father-in-law so it hits home. Lower limb amputation and even death can be the result of undetected sores or ulcers on the feet or legs that are related to poor circulation which in turn can be related to diabetic peripheral neuropathy (feet and legs get numb because because of nerve damage). According to various sources between 50-70% of diabetics will develop peripheral neuropathy and early detection and treatment can help. Unfortunately the numbness is often unaccompanied by pain and, with all the other complications and conditions often found with Type II diabetics, the neuropathy is often not noticed by the patients nor detected by healthcare professionals in time to stave off greater problems.

Neurometrix’s DPN-check is a handheld device specifically designed to detect neuropathy. Neurometrix is the spinoff from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Previously we have written about Neurometrix’s Quell pain relief and SENSUS neurostimulation devices. DPN is short for “diabetic peripheral neuropathy”. DPN-check measures sural nerve conduction velocity and response amplitude which, according to Neurometrix, are standard biomarkers for peripheral neuropathies. Because using DPN-check is quick, accurate, mobile, and cost-effective, and because it produces data usable for clinical interpretation, it should be a boon in early detection of neuropathic issues among diabetics.

The incidence and growth of diabetes, especially Type II diabetes, in our population and in the world is unfortunate, especially since diet and exercise can prevent or ameliorate the disease. The promise of a device such as DPN-check is to aid in fast detection, help patients avoid neuropathic complications, and reduce healthcare costs.