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A Novel Thermochromic Liquid Crystal Fabric Design for the Early Detection of High-Risk Foot Complications

A Proof-of-Concept Study

Jonathan D. LeSar Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, Independence, OH. Dr. LeSar is now with University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center, Cleveland, OH. Dr. Pantano is now with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Bennington, VT. Dr. Ricci is now with Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, RI.

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Nilin M. Rao Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, Independence, OH. Dr. LeSar is now with University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center, Cleveland, OH. Dr. Pantano is now with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Bennington, VT. Dr. Ricci is now with Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, RI.

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Nicholas M. Williams Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, Independence, OH. Dr. LeSar is now with University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center, Cleveland, OH. Dr. Pantano is now with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Bennington, VT. Dr. Ricci is now with Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, RI.

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Jeffrey P. Pantano Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, Independence, OH. Dr. LeSar is now with University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center, Cleveland, OH. Dr. Pantano is now with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Bennington, VT. Dr. Ricci is now with Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, RI.

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Melissa L. Ricci Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, Independence, OH. Dr. LeSar is now with University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center, Cleveland, OH. Dr. Pantano is now with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, Bennington, VT. Dr. Ricci is now with Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, RI.

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Lawrence S. Osher Division of Podiatric and General Medicine, Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, Independence, OH.

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Vincent J. Hetherington Academic Administration and Division of Foot and Ankle Surgery and Biomechanics, Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, Independence, OH.

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Jill S. Kawalec Research Office, Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, Independence, OH.

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Background:

We developed a prototype of a novel thermochromic liquid crystal (TLC)–coated fabric with an extended temperature range and enhanced sensitivity. By incorporating color and pattern recognition into the fabric, rapid determination of the underlying pedal temperature is facilitated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of the TLC fabric as a potential diagnostic aid for identifying complications in the high-risk foot.

Methods:

The hands of 100 individuals were used to compare the mean maximum temperatures indicated by the fabric versus standard thermal camera images. Findings were statistically analyzed using a paired t test, with significance defined as P < .05.

Results:

Except for the tip of the thumb and regions in the palm, there were no statistically significant differences between mean maximum temperatures measured with the thermal camera and those detected with the TLC fabric. Minor differences were relatively consistent in all nine regions of the hand and were not considered to be clinically significant.

Conclusions:

Using direct visual analysis, we demonstrated that a novel TLC fabric could accurately map temperatures in the palmar surface of the hand. The findings support the continued development of a temperature-sensitive sock that can be used in the home to monitor for temperature changes that may indicate the onset of complications in the high-risk foot.

Corresponding author: Jill S. Kawalec, PhD, Research Office, Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine, 6000 Rockside Woods Blvd, Independence, OH 44131. (E-mail: jkawale2@kent.edu)
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