For many people custom orthotics can alleviate discomfort and reduce fatigue. Each orthotic is as unique as the individual, so there’s no room for cutting corners to make a quick buck. Orthotics fraud continues when practitioners fail to follow the proper procedures leaving the patient suffering in more ways than one.
A custom orthotic is a prescribed removable corrective device that is placed in your shoes to hold your foot in the proper position. This allows the joints, muscles and ligaments of your feet to function closer to their normal limits so that your feet and lower leg can move more efficiently. How orthotics are created is crucial; and, that’s why they must be completely custom made and prescribed by certified chiropodists or podiatrists. Fraud is very prevalent in the orthotics industry and it often starts with unscrupulous clinics and practitioners that don’t follow proper protocols.
The importance of casting
Casting is required to accurately create a custom device for the feet to address specific needs. There are some clinics that take shortcuts such as, simply writing down the shoe size or tracing the outline of the patient’s feet. Both of these methods are useless and completely inaccurate for this process.
Taking a proper cast of a patient’s feet is a blend of art and science. A thorough understanding of the orthotic manufacturing process is essential to taking a great cast. The universally accepted method is plaster of Paris casting, but, how the cast is taken is critically important to the end result.
Plaster casting - Preferred method
This method involves holding the patient’s feet in a neutral and non-weight-bearing position while carefully placing plaster of Paris around the bottom and sides of the feet. The positioning is critically important because that will be the position that the finished orthotic will keep the patient’s feet in.
3D Digital Scanning - New technology
This is a newer method that uses 3D cameras to capture a digital version of the bottom and sides of the patient’s feet. Digital casting can still present challenges since it's difficult to keep the patient’s feet in the desired neutral, non-weight-bearing position.