The Ergonomics and Functionality of Orthopedic Shoes: A Research Study to Develop a Better Orthopedic Shoe for People with Diabetes



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



According to the American Diabetes Association, over 37 million adults in America have diabetes. Diabetes comes with many side effects and can severely impact foot health. Symptoms such as neuropathy, ulcers and Charcot foot are regularly seen in patients with diabetes. People with diabetes-related foot conditions are often recommended to wear orthopedic shoes. Features, such as a wide toe box, extra cushioning, and soft, stretchy fabrics are incorporated into orthopedic shoes to accommodate for affected feet and help prevent ulcers and other damage. The study shows that most orthopedic shoes do not meet patients’ comprehensive needs including a perfect fit, discomfort due to not enough cushion or the cushion wearing out quickly, difficulties in putting on, and appropriate visual appeals. Findings from an online survey and in-person interviews confirmed that most people with diabetes are not satisfied with the current orthopedic shoes and would like to see improvements in functionality and aesthetics. This project uncovers specific unmet needs in the orthopedic shoes and aims to design an orthopedic shoe with improved support, conformity, accessibility, and aesthetics. A functioning prototype was developed and tested by the researcher. Participants reviewed the prototype by viewing videos and touching and looking at the shoes. Design modifications were made based on the feedback. An improved prototype was validated through a second round of assessment. Through a user-centered design approach, a better alternative to current orthopedic shoes was developed to make the lives of those who have diabetes-related foot conditions easier and healthier.



Orthopedic shoes, Ergonomics, Functionality, Design, Accessibility