OKAPED introduced the profession of Pedorthics to the Okanagan in 1997. Pedorthic Services offered at our offices include Biomechanical Assessments of the Lower Extremity, Gait Analysis, Custom Foot Orthotics, Orthopaedic Footwear Modification and Repair. Pedorthists are one of the few healthcare professionals trained in the assessment of lower limb anatomy and biomechanics as well as the fabrication, fit and function of custom orthotics. Foot orthotics are not simply something we "also" do. It's our professions specialty.
Foot orthotics are devices made to address biomechanical or physiological problems. They can be used to treat conditions in the feet such as bunions, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia or arthritis. They are also used in helping conditions of the knee, hip as well as the back. The most important aspect when considering treatment with custom orthotics is the examination process and knowing if a foot orthotic is an appropriate treatment choice for your condition.
Unlike over-the-counter solutions OKAPED custom made Orthotics are made specifically for the patient following an assessment of their feet and legs by one of our Canadian Certified Pedorthists. In order to evaluate a patient's specific and unique requirements, we performs a gait (walking or running) analysis of the patient as well as a hands-on biomechanical assessment of the feet and lower legs. The Pedorthist then takes a three-dimensional model of the patient's foot and an orthotic is made from raw materials.
In order to make truly custom orthotics a three dimensional image must be made of the foot. Our Certified Pedorthists have been instructed and tested by our College on methods that are deemed accurate and appropriate to make custom made orthotics. We do direct molding to the feet, Biofoam unweighted seated casting, and plaster of paris slipper casting. Due to the fact that no one method is the best, each practitioner selects the best method based upon the individual needs of the patient. We manufacture your custom orthotics in our onsite lab and do not ship them out to be mass produced. This allows for our Pedorthists and Pedorthic technicians to work side by side to ensure a high quality and accurately fabricated device. We have investigated digital scanners, milling machines and 3-D printers looking for technology advantages and found that each have advantages and disadvantages. If we change our methodology and techniques it will be noted here.
The functional lifespan of a foot orthotic varies from patient to patient. The materials used to make the foot orthotic, the patient's foot structure, current levels of activity, age and usage all have an impact on its lifespan. The shell of the foot orthotic generally lasts longer than the top cover (the material used as an interface between the shell and the patient's foot). Top covers will compress over time but can easily be replaced. The lifespan of a foot orthotic should be measured not by when the finishing touches (the cover material) wear out but by how long it meets the foot's changing needs for support, correction and pressure redistribution. If your symptoms begin to return it is a good idea to have your orthotic reviewed to determine if modifications or a new device are necessary. We recommend changing soft shell orthotics every 2-3 years and semi-rigid orthotcs every 3-5 years.
Unfortunately the word "custom" is sometimes abused and used on products that are mass produced. Custom should mean it is only made for you, and slightly altering a mass produced item or picking a size or height of a product is not making it custom. Ask how your custom orthotics are made for you.