March 2019

UniSA Creates Recipe for Realistic Foot Ulcers

Photograph of 3D-printed feet, some enhanced with foot ulcers, courtesy of UniSa.

Podiatrists at the University of South Australia (UniSA), Adelaide, have blended icing sugar, chicken stock, and flexible resin to create realistic-looking foot ulcers as part of a world-first podiatric training initiative. Helen Banwell, DPM, and Ryan Causby, DPM, concocted the mixture, which is being added to 3D-printed feet and is designed to mimic infected and non-infected diabetic foot wounds.

The addition of lifelike ulcers and effects is added by UniSA’s podiatry team and can encompass anything from dry gangrene to oozing pus. Banwell said the 3D foot models, which are made from thermoplastic polyurethane, will play a part in teaching fourth-year podiatry students how to treat and manage high-risk foot conditions.

“The most effective way to manage these conditions is to medically remove dead or damaged skin to expose the healthy skin underneath and encourage healing,” said Banwell. “The 3D foot models—and the mock injuries with which we enhance them—enable us to provide a realistic but safe learning tool for students to practice their scalpel skills, before they begin clinical placements, and all without the stress or anxiety of treating a real patient.”

To support the training, ulcer debridement and management videos are being developed.

UniSA is also trialing 3D-printed baby legs in podiatry pediatric teaching sessions to allow students hands-on practice for clubfoot casting.


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