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Study level

PhD

Research Masters

Faculty/Lead unit

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Supervisors

Dr Ross Brown
Position
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Dr Bernd Ploderer
Position
Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Mr Peter Lazzarini
Position
Joint Appointment
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health

Overview

Every day in Australia, 50,000 people are suffering with a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU). 1000 are in hospital because of DFU, 12 will undergo an amputation and four people will die with DFU, costing an estimated $1billion annually.

People with a DFU typically require frequent and intensive weekly treatment at a multi-disciplinary diabetic foot clinic to effectively heal their DFU over a period of 3 months, to avoid hospitalisation and amputation.

A key challenge in healing DFUs is effectively engaging people in the care of their own ulcer. Positive clinical outcomes, such as reduced time to ulcer healing, rely on self care away from the clinic. Clinicians often use education to engage patients in self care, but it has continually been shown that having wound care knowledge does not increase adherence to self-care practices. People also need motivation and reminders to enact self care.

To address this challenge, we have developed a mobile technology prototype called ‘MyFootCare’. The app seeks to engage people with a DFU in self care through personal goals (e.g., to be able to walk grandchildren to school), feedback, and reminders. The key technical innovation in MyFootCare is a visual analytics feature to provide feedback about the healing process. People can take a photo of their foot with their mobile phone when they change their wound dressing. Based on computer vision and machine learning techniques, people receive feedback on changes in wound size, tissue and temperature over time.

Research activities

The aim of this research project is to evaluate MyFootCare through field studies with people with a DFU and their clinicians.

You will deploy the app with people with a DFU, interview them about their experience with the app, and observe consultations where people share and discuss their MyFootCare data with clinicians.

Depending on your technical skills, you may also further develop the existing MyFootCare prototype, or contribute design specifications for other developers.

Outcomes

Specifically, the aims of the evaluation are to:

  1. engage people with a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) in self-care through MyFootCare
  2. enhance the communication between people with a DFU and their podiatrists through data from MyFootCare
  3. revise and improve MyFootCare based on the evaluation, and to generate ideas for new technologies to support self-care and dialogue with podiatrists.

Skills and experience

As the successful applicant, you should have:

  • a strong background in human-computer interaction, ideally with some experience in ethnographic methods and human-centred desig
  • technical skills - i.e., mobile application development (Android), computer vision and experience with OpenCV would be useful to develop the current MyFootCare prototype further.

Scholarships

You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round

Keywords

Contact

Contact the supervisor for more information.