Investigating the effect of external trauma through a dynamic system modeling approach for clustering causality in diabetic foot ulcer development

Diabetes and its associated complications are realized as one of the most challenging medical conditions threatening more than 29 million people only in the USA. The forecasts suggest a suffering of more than half a billion worldwide by 2030. Amid all diabetic complications, diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) has attracted much scientific investigations to lead to a better management of this disease. In this paper, a system thinking methodology is adopted to investigate the dynamic nature of the ulceration. The causal loop diagram as a tool is utilized to illustrate the well-researched relations and interrelations between causes of the DFU. The result of clustering causality evaluation suggests a vicious loop that relates external trauma to callus. Consequently a hypothesis is presented which localizes development of foot ulceration considering distribution of normal and shear stress. It specifies that normal and tangential forces, as the main representatives of external trauma, play the most important role in foot ulceration. The evaluation of this hypothesis suggests the significance of the information related to both normal and shear stress for managing DFU. The results also discusses how these two react on different locations on foot such as metatarsal head, heel and hallux. The findings of this study can facilitate tackling the complexity of DFU problem and looking for constructive mitigation measures. Moreover they lead to developing a more promising methodology for managing DFU including better prognosis, designing prosthesis and insoles for DFU and patient caring recommendations.

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