GRADUATE PROJECT: DIABETIC FOOTWEAR

I saw the tremendous feedback the Padillas recieved by posting their thesis projects here on Core, so i decided to fall into step as well.

This whole project started when i was at the mall with my family. We were looking for footwear for my Grandma, who happens to be diabetic. Due to her neuropathy she requires more “protective”(special seems so politically incorrect) footwear. I remember her stating that she didnt like any of the shoes she tried on because they made her look old. Now my Grandmother is 78, but it brought to my attention that even “mature adults” dont want to look or feel old. People today are living longer, and feeling younger. I felt it was important to take this into acount, and think about footwear that appeals to older users.
So, for my graduate thesis i am focusing on improving upon current diabetic footwear. Not only improving its aesthetics, but also designing footwear that promotes activity, and better foot care. I have done a lot of research so far and am currently in the design phase. Here are some of the pages presented to my class and professor so far. Any feedback is welcome.










Here are some sketches i did earlier, more like a brain storm. I was exploring some different ways to make entering and exiting the footwear easier. Also thinking about an insole with a air bladder that generates slight air flow from the insole to the bottom of the feet keeping them dry. Some other ideas i had are: A Plastazote foam molded insole with toe cover, to keep the foot cushioned all around. Last, a non-removeable neoprene inner bootie with antibacterial copper fibers sewn in, keeping the foot clean. Just some initial ideas for now. will post more later

I’m really liking those sketches Yurri. I haven’t had time to look at them closely for the concept/idea content, but the research and exploration look good. Colin Roberts (robertcj) did a diabetic footwear project as well. Here are some snapshots from his coroflot portfolio (I hope you don’t mind Colin), so you may want to see what he has to say about the subject…

By: Colin Roberts

hmmm…ive seen his coroflot before but never saw that before,anyway thanks phil. Yea we actually had a few of the same ideas, but i see his overall project direction led to the floor mat. All in all though, i could definitely build off some of his concepts, although i don’t want to copy him or anything.

I’m not a specialist at all, but I love ppadilla’s idea, presented here.

It’s actually not my idea…it’s by Colin Roberts, as I stated in my post above. Sorry for the confusion but I just thought that Yurri might find it helpful to see what Colin had done with a similar project (what seemed to work and some possible dead ends, etc).

Yurri, great project. I like the way you are researching and presenting it… dang, those feet pictures are gross, but do a fantastic job of showing the need for the footwear…

and… dang… those shoes are gross… and do a fantastic job of showing the need for more design.


So, it sems like the last they need is very bulky. Do they require this much room in the shoe?

If so, my recommendation would be to buy one of those shoes, press a plastic bag into the shoe, then fill it with plaster. Once the plaster hardens, cut the shoe off, sand the plaster until it is smooth… and you have the last.

I think the important thing here is that in most of those orthopedic shoes, they took a normal shoe, like a Mary Jane, and just slapped it on that last. I think it is good to start with an acceptable shoe archetype, because I doubt people that need these shoes want to stand out in anything too techy or spacey… but, because of the last, every line must be beautifully considered. It is possible to make an ugly last look good with the right eye. Play with overlays, stitch lines, material contrast to distract the eye from the outer shape and bring it into the shoe.

Good luck. Great start… looking forward to really dig into it!

Mike- According to the C.F.O.'s (Certified Fitters of Orthotics) I spoke with, yes its very important that the footwear have large toe boxes to accomomdate for swelling. According to them, thats really one of the key features of a good diabetic shoe. So its definetily going to be about the “illusion” of the shoe looking less bulky through the lines of the shoe as you mentioned. An idea i was considering, would be to use a cup sole thats walls extended further than where the foot actually sits inside the shoe. Giving the illusion from the outside that the toe box isn’t as spacious as it really is. Heres a quick illustration, to somewhat explain what i am trying to say.

A cup sole with good sidewall wrap will definitely minimize that. I would also use some mudgaurd type layers to break up the last form into horizontals… visually lowering it, and stay away from any forms that go over the last.

I design shoes for Diabetics, so maybe I can help. First, you are right about the last. The shoes you have in your photos not only have extra depth (about a half inch), they have two removeable footbeds at least and are lined with plastozote. These are the most extreme examples for diabetics and people with arthritis. There are less extreme examples that are more “normal” looking. I always try to remember something a consumer said to me. They were beautiful to her because they let her walk t the mail box.

I’m sure you are aware of the Theraputic Shoe Bill. People with Diabetes can be fully reimbursed by Medicare for shoes that are complient with a couple of rules. You can google it for the exact wording, but they need an adjustable closure, come in widths and have two footbeds. They should also have seamless linings, firm heel counters, and padded toplines. Be careful of multiple overlays especially in the forefoot flex area. Any rubbing in around the metatarsal heads can cause the ulcers you show. Ulcers, as you know, lead to amputations, so this is real stuff.

They aren’t in stores yet, but I just did a big project for Aetrex/Apex. I will post if I can get photos. Basically, I took the extra depth last and made a PU unit bottom with a lot of drop in depth. I sculpted it to make it look like it could be in the “comfort” area of the shoe store instead of the “orthopedic” part. Huge hit so far.

Good luck!

designingmom: I would appreciate any help or feedback possible. Feel free to give feedback whenever. I was aware of the shoebill, but was a bit curious as to some of the stipulations, especially price. I’m wondering if their is a certain price limit that they will cover? I’ll definitely have to look that up.

Ok so over the past week i have been researching and sketching a lot and I’ve somewhat narrowed down my aesthetic (at least I think I have). The upper is comprised of neoprene collar/vamp and either leather or a synthetic. The neoprene allows for easy entry and exit and still provides seamless padding around the ankle and inside. I’m considering just making it a external/internal bootie that covers the foot. I think it could add greater protection around the toes, but not sure if it would sacrifice space in the toe box. While researching materials and textiles I came across micro encapsulation, which is basically infusing fabrics/textiles with nutrients or fragrances. They already have clothing infused with vitamins so i thought that the plastozote top insole can be covered by a layer of material infused with vitamin C which can be absorbed into the skin and in theory “moisturize” the foot. Again, I’m not positive if this could work but it seems plausible. I also found that algae and bamboo have been infused within textiles to promote cell regeneration and blood circulation. Since copper fibers have been added to socks due to its antibacterial properties, I want to incorporate that into the lining of the shoe as well. Hope I’m not trying to do too much with the shoe, I just really want to focus on the importance of good foot care. I have also posted some more sketches from this past week.

Good stuff Yurri. I like the second one down on the left with the very traditional sneaker toe cap. I think that one works well, though you have one panel that runs from the quarter to the vamp, and probably back around the other side… way too big, it would be very expensive. There will have to be a split in the pattern, so design it in to be intentional. I also like the bottom left one for combining sneaker and boat shoe. That might take color well.

I think the bottom center one, the toe would look huge in 3d. The one above that, the way the forms kind of pinch center would be weird, but other than that, that concept could be really nice.

I really like your thinking here. I do have a couple of points.

Neoprene is great because it is soft and stretchy. It is very gentle on the skin. The down side is that it is hot. Sweaty skin breaks down easier. not a good thing. Use it sparingly. Current solutions to making the shoes easy on/off involve openning the eyestay as wide as possible. I don’t think this is the only solution, but I encourage you to visit a pedorthist’s office and watch these shoes go on and off. A bootie may be more difficult and only add more bulk. Also the back pull tab shouldn’t go on the inside. It will rub on the heel. You should be able to put your hands inside the shoes and feel no lumps or bumps.

Also be careful where you place the seams and overlays in the forefoot. A pedorthist might want to modify the upper at the met heads and stitching in that area make it more difficult.

Your outsole will need a “cut here line”. A pedorthist will slice off the bottom of the sole, add bits and pieces to correct gate, and cement the sole back on. Outsoles that arch up in the middle may make that more difficult.

Copper has regenerative properties. I love the idea of incorporating it into your shoe. Not sure of the vitamin C idea, but it’s worth researching for sure.Sounds very interesting.

Good luck!

designmom: i understand what you are talking about as far as having a full bootie inside the shoe. I plan to limit the amount of neoprene used by only having it around the collar and vamp. I do have a question about the “cut here” line you were referring too. I went to a few stores that carried Aetrex and i couldn’t locate it. Do all diabetic shoes have this? If so, i think that will limit my outsole design to just a rocker sole? I would love to see the shoes that you mentioned earlier that you sculpted so i can get a better idea of my possible options.
As far a the microencapsulated fabrics that i wanted to incorporate in the shoes, i believe this is a viable idea. The technology has been around for some time but recently is being utilized in apparel. The micro-capsules act as tiny containers of liquids or solids and release their core contents under controlled conditions to fulfill a specific purpose. One of the most commonly used substances for this technology in the apparel industry would be the use of aloe. Its molecules have been infused in socks and shirts. Friction and heat serve as the catalyst to release the molecules from its polymer coatings and gets absorbed into the skin. Im not positive of what nutrients i want to infuse the fabrics with yet, but i believe this technology could be beneficial to diabetics.

YO:I’ve posted a few more concepts… I like the one on top personally, although it may be a bit too stubby? Also explored some different aesthetics for the vamp design as-well.
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The new Aetrex shoes aren’t out yet. The “cut here” line is a guide to remove the bottom 5mm or so of the sole, build up the midsole according to prescription, then reattach the sole. It helps them not cut through the lasting board and ruin the shoe.

So, it’s been a while since my last update, but I have a lot of new info and have made some progress in the project thus far. Here, I have uploaded some newer slides to my presentation that breifly explains fabric –encapsulation, and research about the materials im using.

I recently realised that my efforts to utilize some sort of “bio-theraputic textile” may be in vain, due to the fact that people usually wear socks with their footwear. My initial idea was to have the vitamin e enriched lining of the shoe transfer the vitamin e to the foot and be absorbed through the skin. But, if the user is wearing socks, that isn’t possible. Designmom, do you think it is practical to have a diabetic shoe that may not require the user to wear socks? Especially since the copper fibers offer the anti-microbial factor inside the shoe?

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In the meantime, I spent the majority of my summer break (its over now) sketching and really trying to identify a set aesthetic for the upper and the sole. Since the sole is such an important aspect of the shoe, it was necessary to explore some different side profiles.








The section view above, shows the concept in action. The objective is to set the foot lower in the sole, allowing for a less bulky upper. By designing and sculpting the sole of the shoe, the shoe should become visually lower, ridding it of the visual cues of most diabetic footwear. The cupsole construction offers good side to side wall support and allows for removeable inserts to give added depth if needed. The concept seems solid, but if there are any mistakes or issues I may have overlooked, please feel free to correct me.

Here, I have explored as few more designs for the upper and a potential bootie design. More to come in the next few days, 10 weeks left so I have my work set for me.

Yurri, you’ll have to let me know when presentations are so I can come check it out.

Interesting project. Looking forward to see how it turns out. For visual reference, the KEEN stuff all has big toe boxes, almost exaggerated. The bottom left sketch has a little of that feel.

Nice drawings Yurri.

some very nice ideas also for"normal" shoes I would say.
Also the topview study is very nice.

B-art

Good stuff Yurri. Look into adding a paint hit on the sidewall to visually slim it. This Nike Air Morrie (Designed by Mark Smith and crew I believe…) has a pretty high midsole, but the painted sidewall helps visually cut it by almost 1/3.
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