A total offloading foot brace used early minimizes plantar pressure, helping ease diabetic foot ulcers, a new study finds.

The study was the first clinical trial to evaluate rates of wound healing for plantar DFUs in patients fitted with a specific offloading foot brace, researchers said. Foot offloading is one treatment for plantar DFUs, which can lead to amputation.

In the study at the University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic, patients were randomly selected to have either a standard therapy, such as reducing stress or pressure, or the offloading foot brace. Patients’ ulcers were assessed after appointments between weeks 2 to 5, weeks 6 to 9, and weeks 12 to 15. Wound healing was determined via a digital photograph and computer-assisted planimetry. Wound area, length and width were recorded.

Earlier periods of the brace compared to the control group showed faster wound healing. The offloading brace group also reported improvements in social functioning and emotional well-being. Patient compliance with offloading devices should be more closely studied, authors said. Results appeared in Wounds.