Kent State students, professor create insole for people affected by diabetes


Rao, Glickman and Verdin display their insole designed to reduce foot pain for diabetes patients.  

Evan Harms

Kent State students and a professor from the College of Podiatric Medicine have developed an insole for diabetics called “Puncture-Pedic.”

Ellen Glickman, a professor, along with students Nilin Rao and Craig Verdin founded TheraPod LLC and have begun designing products focusing on foot pain, the most recent of which is the Puncture-Pedic Insole.

“If a patient has any type of significant pain caused by an ulcer or a callus on their foot, they’re pretty much in pain until they are able to come to a podiatrist,” Rao said in a phone interview.

Once at the podiatrist, patients have their ulcers cleaned are given a shoe or boot that helps alleviate pressure.

But, Rao said, “There’s nothing currently available over-the-counter that a patient can go pick up prior to coming to the podiatrist.”

Rao said that most of these diabetic patients suffer from neuropathy, a lack of feeling in their feet, as a result of low blood pressure and poor immune health. As they put pressure on the same spots over and over while walking, sores can “open up” and become infected, potentially leading to amputation of the toes and feet.

“[Diabetics] were the first people we thought of when we came up with the concept. But, we then realized that there are a lot of people who can benefit from this technology as well,” Rao said. Any people who have medical issues with their feet can use the insoles, as well as athletes who are prone to developing blisters on their feet.

“People can buy the insole that is best suited to their pathology,” Rao said. The company would offer a few different types featuring different arrangements of fixed pressure points, but eventually, Rao said, they want to make the insoles “truly customizable.” 

The insole is designed to be able to have specific “punctures” punched out, in order to lessen the pressure an ulcerated area would be exposed to.

Each of the punctures beneath pressure points on the insole are made in concentric circles, so patients can punch out the places where ulcers form, and then add the pieces back as the ulcer heals.
Rao said that he and his colleagues are still working on the manufacturing aspects of the insole, but hopes to have it available in 6 – 8 months. While Rao said he has no idea how much it might cost, he says that he and his colleagues want to make the product “as affordable as possible.”
Part of this, as Glickman said, would be to address the fact that most drug stores don’t address the needs that 29 million Americans facing diabetes have to deal with.
Rao said, “With the skyrocketing prevalence of diabetes these days, ‘normal’ people developing Type II diabetes are often afraid to show that they have these problems. Our insole allows them to discreetly offload pressure rather than wearing a big boot or cast.”