Pedorthists are trained orthotic and orthopedic footwear experts. They essentially specialize in assessing and solving issues related to your lower body and its muscle and joint function.
So, for example, if your ability to walk becomes an issue, everything that surrounds or touches your feet, be it your shoes, boots, slippers or sandals, or even your socks and hosiery, can become a crucial part of a treatment plan designed to improve foot function and thus your overall mobility. And pedorthists are the people who can help make this happen.
Pedorthists also design, make and then ensure a proper fit of any custom orthotic or footwear modifications, such as shoe lifts and other supports. These highly trained specialists may also use things like braces, night splints, partial-foot prosthetics, or other devices to help people regain or maintain their ability to walk as normally as possible.
“Custom orthotics are used to treat many lower body issues, including, [but not limited to] leg, knee, or foot pain and back pain,” says Deanna Skinner, regional manager at HealthQuest, a custom support solutions company based in Newfoundland. “They are designed to align your foot and ankle into the most anatomical position possible and reduce any strain on your body.”
Some of the conditions pedorthists are able to treat, according to Skinner include plantar fasciitis (the flat ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes), bunions, metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot), over and under pronation and heel spurs. If you suffer from one of these conditions, or another related to your lower body, your doctor will typically refer you to a pedorthist.
“When we receive a referral at HealthQuest, our pedorthists start by completing a clinical assessment, biomechanical examination and gait analysis,” says Skinner.
This is followed up by a treatment program that meets your needs and lifestyle, she says. And along with this, they take the time to educate the client and follow through with them to make any necessary adjustments or modifications to ensure custom products are helping and are comfortable.
“We will also collaborate with your doctor or physiotherapist, or anyone else involved in a client’s treatment, to make sure they are receiving the best care and products for their condition,” says Skinner.
“Custom orthotics are one of the more common orthopedic products we supply,” she adds. “They are generally cast from a plaster or foam mold that is unique to each client because they are made directly from the mold of their foot,” Skinner says.
Pedorthists can also assess your current footwear to ensure it is providing a solid foundation for any custom orthotics they create.
“A non-supportive shoe will only work against the features of your orthotics,” she says, in which case HealthQuest can even modify it by stretching it to allow for more room, for example, or adding a lift to accommodate a leg length discrepancy.
“We have two certified pedorthists here now. Brendan Walsh is a kinesiology graduate from Memorial University. He completed his Canadian pedorthic certification from Western University in Ontario,” Skinner says.
The other pedorthist at HealthQuest is Jennifer Fillier, a certified pedorthic technician and a graduate from the pedorthics education program at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. Both work out of HealthQuest’s St. John’s location at 300 Kenmount Rd. and provide bi-monthly pedorthic clinics at their Grand Falls-Windsor location at 28 Cromer Ave.
If you are interested in more information, you can visit HealthQuest’s website at www.HealthQuestNL.ca or visit one of their two locations or call (709) 754-5944 (St. John’s) or (709) 489-2111 (Grand Falls-Windsor).