U of M Researcher Develops Technique To Improve Diabetes Complications

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, June 19, 2007 – Birgitta I. Rice, MS, RPh, CHES, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, has developed a therapy that is proven to relieve leg pain and improve healing of chronic foot ulcers in patients with diabetes or peripheral arterial disease. The training protocol was published in the May/June issue of The Diabetes Educator.

The standardized relaxation therapy, WarmFeet Intervention, allows peripheral blood vessels to widen, providing improved circulation to tissues and nerves. In the randomized clinical trial, 87.5 percent of research subjects with chronic foot ulcers healed completely within three months. Most study participants began to see results within two weeks. In addition, improvements in pain relief, nerve function, ambulation, and coping skills were noticed by the study participants.

The therapy was developed based on research conducted by Rice and former colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Utilizing assisted thermal biofeedback, patients can determine if they are relaxing correctly by seeing an increased temperature in their limbs. The relaxed blood vessels allow additional blood flow to the periphery, thus warming them.

“Not only is this a tool for enhanced pain relief and healing for patients who suffer from diabetes or peripheral arterial disease, but it is also a tool for self-empowerment and motivation,” said Rice. “As a supplement to traditional medical care, patients can now contribute to their own health.”

The Academic Health Center is home to the University of Minnesota’s six health professional schools and colleges as well as several health-related centers and institutes. Founded in 1851, the University is one of the oldest and largest land grant institutions in the country. The AHC prepares the new health professionals who improve the health of communities, discover and deliver new treatments and cures, and strengthen the health economy.

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