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Automated Peripheral Neuropathy Assessment Using Optical Imaging and Foot Anthropometry

A large proportion of individuals who live with type-2 diabetes suffer from plantar sensory neuropathy. Regular testing and assessment for the condition is required to avoid ulceration or other damage to patient’s feet. Currently accepted practice involves a trained clinician testing a patient’s feet manually with a hand-held nylon monofilament probe. The procedure is time consuming, labor intensive, requires special training, is prone to error, and repeatability is difficult. With the vast increase in type-2 diabetes, the number of plantar sensory neuropathy sufferers has already grown to such an extent as to make a traditional manual test problematic.

This paper presents the first investigation of a novel approach to automatically identify the pressure points on a given patient’s foot for the examination of sensory neuropathy via optical image processing incorporating plantar anthropometry. The method automatically selects suitable test points on the plantar surface that correspond to those repeatedly chosen by a trained podiatrist. The proposed system automatically identifies the specific pressure points at different locations, namely the toe (hallux), metatarsal heads and heel (Calcaneum) areas. The approach is generic and has shown 100% reliability on the available database used. The database consists of Chinese, Asian, African, and Caucasian foot images.