KUALA LUMPUR, 4 Dec 2019:
An orthopaedic surgeon’s desire to ease the suffering of diabetic patients has led him to discover innovations such as special footwear and prosthetic limbs for them.
Associate Prof Dr Mohd Yazid Bajuri, who is attached to Hospital Canselor Tuanku Mukhriz (HCTM) – and is the hospital’s sole subspecialist in foot and ankle disorders – is now in the midst of developing a cleansing solution that can heal diabetic wounds faster.
(HCTM in Cheras is Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s teaching hospital.)
The innovation is capable of destroying all pathogens present in the wound and can accelerate the healing process and cause the wound to dry out in as early as seven days, he said.
People with type 2 diabetes mellitus – the most common type of diabetes – are prone to foot ulcers because over time, the disease can cause nerve damage that leads to numbness in the feet.
This makes it difficult for diabetics to feel any soreness on their feet. Chronic diabetes can also affect the autonomic nervous system which can cause diabetics to develop dry skin that may be more prone to cracking, injury and infection.
Dr Mohd Yazid, who is an expert in diabetic foot management, said his wound cleansing solution is expected to be ready for use in the middle of next year.
“Besides helping to speed up wound healing, it can also reduce treatment costs for patients because they can use the same solution to treat all kinds of wounds.”
Wound cleansing solutions currently available in the market can only kill certain strains of bacteria, said Dr Mohd Yazid, who started practising as an orthopaedic surgeon in 2009.
“Currently, patients have to use different types of solutions to treat their sores properly, depending on the level (of infection).”
Dr Mohd Yazid’s earlier innovations include special footwear for diabetics and special prosthetic limbs that can be worn by Muslims when they perform their prayers.
He said he developed the shoes following complaints by his patients – who found expensive diabetic shoes they had bought in the market to be uncomfortable.
“The footwear that I developed is made specially to suit the wearer’s foot measurements to avoid pressure and reduce risk of injury,” he explained.
As for the special prosthetic limb, he said he has seen many Muslim patients having to remove their artificial limb before performing prayers and this led him to develop a limb that can bend like a normal leg.
“It made it easier for the patients to perform prayers as they need not remove their artificial limb.”
When Dr Mohd Yazid came up with these innovations, he did not only have his patients’ comfort in mind but also wanted to help reduce their costs by providing them with affordable shoes and prosthetic limbs.
“Those available in the market are usually very expensive and can cost thousands of ringgit. As a doctor and researcher, I felt obliged to develop cheaper shoes and prosthetics (for my patients) so that more people can benefit from them.”
To enable his needy patients to get the special shoes and prosthetic limbs free of charge, he obtained RM274,300 in funds from the Energy, Science, Environment and Climate Change Ministry through its Malaysia Social Innovation programme.
“With the funds, we expect to help about 200 to 250 patients to get the special shoes or prosthetic limbs that we developed here.”
The good doctor’s inspiration for his innovations came from his interactions with his patients, particularly those who had diabetic wounds on their feet.
“As a doctor, my duty is to provide treatment but I wanted to do more for my patients. This led me to carry out research to discover innovations that can help my diabetic patients to resolve the problems they face.”
He said almost 30% of diabetic patients warded at HCTM’s orthopaedic ward have serious foot ulcers. When the wound is left untreated, it can become infected and complications can result if the bacteria infect other parts of the body.
He also said that most of the patients who sought treatment at HCTM came from B40 households and were the sole breadwinners. “When their wounds become serious, they have to stop working, which will affect their families.”
Recognising the need to provide quality care to his patients, Dr Mohd Yazid – who is also a lecturer at UKM’s Medical Faculty – opened a dedicated ward for foot and ankle care at HCTM last year.
This special ward, located next to the male orthopaedic ward, was set up using funds contributed by Wakaf Selangor Muamalat (RM300,000), an agency that manages endowments made by Muslims in Selangor; and Berjaya Group Bhd (RM40,000).
Dr Mohd Yazid stresses proper wound management for diabetics and tries his level best not to amputate the affected limb.
“Here (at the special ward), I place great emphasis on the wound cleansing process rather than amputation. Every day, the wounds are cleaned twice, in the morning and evening.
“However, if the bacteria has spread to other parts of the body and damages the kidneys and liver which will lead to other complications, then we would be forced to amputate the affected part (of the limb).”
The foot and ankle care ward has treated about 100 patients so far. Dr Mohd Yazid has devised a programme for the patients that covers their diet and wound care, among others.
Their family members are also given guidance on how to care for cuts and wounds in order to reduce the risk of infection in the patient’s foot.
“In the treatment of diabetes, HCTM is different from other hospitals in Malaysia because here we have more complete facilities with multidisciplinary expertise for the patients.”