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Taking foot impressions…
…a lost art?

Did someone say "easy..." ?

Advances in technology have certainly made many aspects of life easier over the past couple of decades & most of it, we don’t give a second though toward. Be it online shopping, booking holidays, filtering images for social media, technology is all around us and it’s ever impacting the way we do things and the ease at which we expect things to occur.

Resident MSK Podiatrist Heidi Meckler poses a few pertinent questions and discusses the situation of how we engage with the technology that surrounds our busy professional lives…

" Technology will never replace great (clinicians)
... but technology in the hands of great (clinicians) is transformational. "

George Couros, TEDex 2013

Taking foot impressions...
is it a lost art ?

Advances in technology have certainly made many aspects of life easier over the past couple of decades & most of it, we don’t give a second though toward. Be it online shopping, booking holidays, filtering images for social media. For the more tech savvy there’s video streaming, 3D printing and the countless things we can do on a smart phone, the possibilities are endless… Technology is all around us and it’s ever impacting the way we do things and the ease at which we expect things to occur.

Having a few years clinical experience and being a active participant in the education of the podiatry world, I cannot avoid asking questions like:

  • Can all these advances de-skill us in other areas?
  • Do we get so wrapped up in how much quicker, easier and more streamlined everything is that we forget some of the core principles of what we’re doing?
  • Does it even matter?

  • The simple answer to the above is YES. For a lot of the things we do (and say we do)… as an industry, current technology has a de-skilling effect. It is much quicker and easier in exchange for a bit of “loosening” of our protocols and effects the customised nature of the product(s) we produce.

    The challenge of these answers brings me to the “taking of foot impressions” and the application of technology being used in this key area of manufacturing a fully custom orthosis.

    Before I do, Jumping back 20 years when I was just about qualified and starting to see my first MSK patients, I was required to take foot impressions for the manufacture of custom orthoses. This was no easy task!

    After several decent attempts, I was left with a plaster room caked in plaster, a patient who looked like I’d tried to mummify his foot and nothing which actually resembled a foot impression! I was mortified. Mum would still be proud, but Im sure my understanding boss at the time was tested…

    Fast forward a few months and following a very intensive course with MSK & Manufacturing Guru; Ray Anthony, I was just about producing a half decent cast and getting orthoses back from the lab which had the desired effect. Happy Podiatrist, happy patient.

    Now I know Plaster of Paris (PoP) casting is quite archaic, messy, time consuming and fragile BUT… it does make you put the foot in the position you need it to be in. This tricky casting process makes you think clinically and rationally about what you are trying to achieve. It forces you to evaluate and critique the cast you have taken. All very important when you need to “Communicate” all of this key information to a lab.

    Roll on 20 years and many of us are using digital scanners to take foot impressions. This technology makes complete sense as it saves time, you can email “scans” & there’s no mess or storage issues… but have we become complacent?

    With this innovative, super-efficient technology, have we forgotten what we are trying to communicate? Have we forgotten about the position of the foot? Worse still, have we forgotten that the position of the foot actually matters? Now I’m not for one minute suggesting we ditch the iPads & dust off the PoP… however I am definitely suggesting that we re visit the core principles of taking a foot impression.

    More on this to follow…

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    In simple terms, communication is the process by which an accurate exchange of information occurs between individuals and/or groups of people. Good communication is evidenced by all parties satisfied with the resulting action / products generated by the interaction.

    Read more here.