Project Description

ORTHOTICS

Most drivers don’t think much about spark plugs and carburetors. They just want their vehicles to run, leaving the details to their mechanics. Most homeowners trust electricians to worry about voltages and alternating currents. They just want their lights to come on. In the same way, most patients who use medical devices just want the devices to work. Knowing how they work is the domain of clinicians and researchers. Unless, that is, the medical device is a foot orthotic.

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Orthotics work in mysterious ways

The basic function of an orthotic is to put the foot into a better position, which alleviates pain, says Nirenberg. If a muscle is strained or hurting, a properly chosen orthotic will do some of the muscle’s work for it, thereby reducing its workload and bringing relief. Of course, giving muscles a permanent vacation also has a down side.

  • Alleviating pain in the foot, ankle, leg, and lower back

  • Maintaining correct alignment of foot and leg

  • Improving balance

  • Supporting the arch and heel

  • Preventing bunions and clawed digits

  • Absorbing shock and distributing the pressure across the bottom of the foot

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When visited by a patient in pain, Gordon Ruder, a practising orthotist and the coordinator of the prosthetic and orthotic programs at George Brown College in Toronto, Ontario, won’t prescribe orthotics right away. First, he will recommend such things as better shoes, strength training, stress reduction or lifestyle changes that could alleviate the problem. Sometimes, however, these things aren’t enough.

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