#WeAreNotWaiting: Four “DIY treatments” for Type 1 diabetics

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As Type 1 diabetics struggle to gain access to the upgrades and data they need, desperate times have called for desperate measures. That’s why the #WeAreNotWaiting movement have sprung into action.

The dangers of diabetes are often understated. The potentially fatal disease requires a very strict regiment of insulin dosing, frequent blood sugar tests and carb counting. So with little technological movement over their treatment, this is how patients are going “DIY” with their care:

#WeAreNotWaiting: DIY treatments for
Type 1 diabetes

Building an artificial pancreas

Don’t worry, you aren’t being told to perform surgery on yourself here. A few years ago, Dana M. Lewis and Scott Leibrand – key players in the #WeAreNotWaiting movement – designed the OpenAPS (Artificial Pancreas System) in order to help create a better way on monitoring glucose levels.

It works by adjusting the insulin pump’s delivery to keep blood glucose in a safe range overnight, as well as between main meals. The technology communicates with the pump, obtains glucose estimates, and issues commands to the pump over whether levels need to be increased or decreased.

You’ll need to consult the very comprehensive “How To…” guide here. But for the meantime, this is what the OpenAPS looks like…

(Github / OpenApps)

Users who are “looping”

A bit of a cryptic term, but “looping” is the name given to type 1 diabetics who are increasingly using different means of technology to help them treat their conditions. Alternatives to the OpenAPS system are frequently used by the community, which you can find out more about here.

Users who loop provide information to each other, track their progress and share technological breakthroughs they’ve had with DIY efforts. Gitter is an extremely active message board which discusses these methods, and first-timers are advised to share their questions with those who have been there and done it.

An influx of “Dexcom” entrepreneurs

In fact, DIY is the whole backbone of the #WeAreNotWaiting moment. That’s literally their message. Type 1 diabetics are often told that new breakthroughs are coming “within the next five years”, but the day simply never arrives.

Dexcom is the ambitious project looking to break this cycle. The group have invented a public interface for patients to share their treatment methods and pitch their ideas for helpful, useful apps

This essentially “breaks open” a path for collaborative innovation with the patient community, by making previously fenced-off data available for thousands of third-party programmers, who can unleash their creativity on building a variety of new tools.

Open source hacking

#WeAreNotWaiting have used this in their war on the lack of information. Through tools like NightScout – an application that is able to source vital information about patients’ glucose levels – diabetics can learn more about how they must treat themselves, as many are frustrated by the silence of medical science.

What is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes?

Although both conditions are based on a lack of insulin, there are some big differences in terms of physical symptoms, how it begins, and the warnings signs. This is what you need to look out for:

(Medical News Today)

How many people have Type 1 diabetes

The World Health Organisation estimates that 8.5% of the world’s population suffers from diabetes – that’s around 400 million people. However, Type 1 is much less common. It’s estimated for every Type 1 sufferer, there are 20 Type 2’s: That accounts for roughly 20 million people on Earth.

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