PEOPLE with diabetes are far more likely to suffer falls than other people their age, resulting in injuries and impacting upon their quality of life.
Dr Neil Reeves and a team from the Institute for human Movement (IRM) is trying to find out why and is asking for the help of local diabetics.
With a €222,000 grant from the European Foundation for the Study of Diabetes, the team of physiologists are investigating neuromuscular factors that make everyday tasks hazardous for people with types 1 and 2 diabetes and peripheral neuropathy.
The project will see the team use experimental techniques including the use of a ten-camera motion analysis system and the assessment of muscle activity to characterise how people with diabetes walk and negotiate stairs.
Course of exercise
Neil said: “There may be a number of factors that contribute to why these patients are much more likely to fall and we aim to investigate these – such as peripheral neuropathy (lack of sensation in the feet) and muscular weakness.
“The intervention we plan is primarily exercise-based, aimed at reducing gait instability and improving balance, leading to reduced likelihood of falls and therefore improved safety during everyday gait tasks.”
The project will be run in collaboration with the Manchester Diabetes Centre.
This project forms part of a larger body of work investigating gait in people with diabetes for which Dr Reeves has recently gained funding from the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation. It is hoped that the work will provide effective interventions for improving the safety of tasks and contribute to enhancing quality of life for people with diabetes.
More volunteers needed
The University is now recruiting participants for our study, helping us to gain some expose of the project to the general public.
Joe Handsaker, a PhD researcher on the project, said: “Basically, we are looking for people with diabetes of both types to participate in a study examining their walking and stair negotiation characteristics.”
Professor Marco Narici, director of the IRM said: “The project is a clear example of how fundamental research can be applied in the clinical field for the study of major debilitating conditions.”