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November 2019

Monthly Archives

Tips from a Pedorthist: Fall Prevention

Fall prevention should be a top priority for those prone to injury or for those who have mobility concerns. Falls can cause major disruptions to someone’s life, as it can affect  where a person lives safely to how much they can do for themselves around the house. Falls account for 85% of all injury-related hospitalizations for seniors and can result in serious bodily harm. Over 50% of people incur significant and impactful life changes due to falls. 

Some of those injured may not return home or live independently after a bad fall occurs. Broken and fractured bones may be involved in falls; ankles and hips are areas that are prone to breaking. Follow the fall prevention tips from a Canadian Certified Pedorthist to avoid a major accident occurring to you or to a loved one.

Fall Prevention Tips

With people spending more time at home, it is important that you examine your house and your loved ones’ houses carefully for potential tripping or falling hazards. Since over 50% of falls take place at home, it is important to narrow your chances by taking the time to examine each room with the help of family and friends. Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists can also help with this, but there may be a cost for this service.

Consider the following tripping hazards around you and take the necessary precautions to prevent anyone from falling:

  1. Electrical cords

Electrical cords that are not anchored down in a safe fashion are easy to trip on. Please check that they are necessary and then anchor them down so that they are not a tripping hazard.

  1. Obstructions in high-traffic areas

Obstructions of boxes or piles of clutter in hallways impede traffic and create other safety hazards. Spend some time making the house more organized so that these problems are dealt with and there is more room to move safely.

  1. Floor mats

Small floor mats that are curled up at the edges or have lost the rubber backing are just waiting to take you down! It is time to repair those you choose to keep or replace older mats with newer and safer ones.

  1. Footwear

Knitted slippers without a non-slip sole underneath or socks make it easy to “skate” on linoleum or hardwood. Please put a non-slip sole on these slippers or invest in a pair of slippers or shoes that have a non-slip sole on them for ease of safely getting around the house.

Often people with swollen feet are unable to wear shoes so they end up wearing socks, which is an especially dangerous way to get around. Swelling decreases the agility and mobility in the lower limbs so this person has less chance to stop a fall before it happens. It is recommended that people with swollen feet wear a form of non-slip slippers at the very least to avoid major falls. Adjustable sandals, slippers with a closure or even light weight shoes can provide better stability for walking around the house.

When a person goes outside, it is important that they have the appropriate footwear. Shoes and boots that have the appropriate tread pattern is important. In the winter, having a tread pattern that extends to both sides of the sole is important because those edges help to gain a grip on packed snow and ice. Examine the soles for increased wear on either side. Areas on the sole that are very worn down make them unstable to wear and make it easy for the wearer to fall. Ensuring sidewalks and steps are cleared of snow and ice is also an important area for preventing issues.

  1. Home modifications

Many people wake up in the middle of the night to quickly get to the washroom. The person may not be fully awake and thus is prone to problems. In addition to the recommended non-slip footwear, appropriate lighting and furniture placement will help with fall prevention at night. Physiotherapists or Occupational Therapists can work with people to examine other options that would help in terms of arranging furniture or coming up with alternative solutions that may reduce the need to rush in the middle of the night!

Seeking Professional Assistance

Fall prevention is a topic that has multiple aspects; a team approach can be required to come up with a comprehensive plan, depending on a client’s needs. Concerns about eyesight can be addressed by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist. Concerns about balance and medicine need to be addressed by a doctor and a Pharmacist. Concerns about footwear can be addressed by a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists can give exercises to help people navigate safely without falling. There is a whole lot more that can be done in assessments to evaluate the risks and to put a process in place to help prevent falls.

To find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your area visit https://www.pedorthic.ca/find-a-pedorthist/

By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C)


Meet a Pedorthist – John Does

John Does was immediately inspired to help others in the world of pedorthics when an orthotic provider treated him as a runner. He remembers how this particular provider eliminated his over-use symptoms caused by poor gait mechanics.

“I found the process fascinating and the results amazed me,” says John. “No one in my immediate circle had ever heard of orthotics, and as a business-minded individual, I felt that there might be an opportunity to help others understand the benefits of this non-invasive, life-altering approach to treating causes rather than symptoms.”

The southwestern Ontario native studied business at The University of Windsor, and began his pedorthic career in the 1990s. John later returned to education, when he became certified as a C Ped (C). He has always believed in lifelong learning, and continued going back to school while running his business.

“I believe that in life, and in business, you’re either growing or going because nothing stays the same,” he says. John delivered on this philosophy earning an MBA and then a PhD from 2007 through 2016.

In addition to John’s passion for lifelong learning, he also enjoys helping his patients find comfort and return to their favourite activities. “The structure of the human foot is poorly suited to interact with the flat hard surfaces we pound on daily, and the footwear choices that walk into my clinics seem to be getting worse – not better,” John says. “Further, there seem to be fewer and fewer professionals concentrating on gait mechanics. Combine that with a population that is getting older and heavier, and it isn’t a huge leap to suggest it is a great time to be a pedorthist in North America.”

His advice for new pedorthists is to never stop learning. “Effective people in any field are always learning. As pedorthists, we have an opportunity to learn every single day,” he says. “If new orthotics feel strange, that is to be expected.  However, if you create a new pain, something is wrong.  Listen and clarify . . . try to fix it . . .  and then follow up. This will improve your results, help to build stronger relationships with customers, and if you diligently document the process, it will provide a systematic approach to ongoing learning within your clinic.”

John enjoys spending time with his wife and daughters. He likes to travel, read, and participate in most sports – especially hockey and golf. John is also a published humourist and author, in the final stages of publishing a series of children’s books.


Diabetes Awareness Month and Fall Prevention Month in Canada

Many of us have heard the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We eat our dark leafy greens and lean protein to ward off heart disease and wear helmets to minimize head and brain injury upon impact. We even have products applied to our cars to prevent premature corrosion of its metallic parts. Some may say, awareness of these issues is half the battle.

You may already know that November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Fall Prevention Month in Canada. The premise behind these campaigns is to raise awareness and educate the Canadian public so that prevention is top of mind and the prevalence of Diabetes and falls is reduced. As Canadian Certified Pedorthists, these two areas are close to our heart. The Pedorthic Association of Canada acknowledges awareness and prevention in these areas as a key element of living a long, healthy life. We see on a daily basis how foot care and proper footwear choice can help protect you from the damaging effects of both.

Diabetes Awareness Month

In 2018, Statistics Canada published results from a 2017 survey that stated, “7.3% of Canadians aged 12 and older (roughly 2.3 million people) reported being diagnosed with diabetes.” Diabetes Canada suggests that 90% of Canadians living with diabetes have been diagnosed with Type 2. They list the following ways to reduce your chances of developing complications due to Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Keep your blood sugar within your target range
  • Avoid smoking
  • Keep your cholesterol and other blood fats within your target range
  • Keep your blood pressure within your target range
  • Take care of your feet
  • Regularly visit with your doctor, diabetes team, dentist and eye-care specialist

We talk a lot about Diabetes in the pedorthic clinic due to its ability to disrupt the network of nerves responsible for sending and receiving messages to and from the brain (known as peripheral neuropathy) and its impact on the normal wound healing process, especially in the legs and feet. The risk of foot ulceration, for example, can be reduced with well-fitting footwear, full-contact custom foot orthotics, and daily inspections of your feet and shoes. This includes making sure your feet are clean and dry before putting seamless socks on and, before putting them on, sweeping your hand inside your shoes to make sure there are no foreign objects like keys, golf balls, pins, or bunched up socks hiding inside. I’ve personally found some of these things inside clients’ shoes that they wore to the clinic!

Canadian Certified Pedorthist have hands-on training in the manufacturing of custom foot orthotics. We also have the skillset to make adjustments, modifications or accommodations, and add or remove padding to your orthotics or footwear to dissipate the pressure and friction that can lead to ulcers. Most C. Ped (C)s have open access to a lab, frequently right onsite, and will have essential materials and equipment on hand to make those vital changes when needed.

Fall Prevention Month

Fall Prevention Month states that 20-30% of seniors will fall each year and is the leading cause for injury-related hospitalizations each year. These falls often result in injuries such as bruises, muscle strains, ligament sprains, and/or broken bones. To reduce the risk of falling in your home, stairs and floors should always be clean and free of objects. Make sure indoor and outdoor areas where you are walking are well lit and that you remain aware of your surroundings. Footwear should be fitted by a trained professional such as a C. Ped (C) and be chosen for the activity and surfaces it will be used on. Canadian Certified Pedorthists conduct a detailed gait analysis (in other words, we watch the way a person walks) in each assessment and for every patient we see. We consider this an essential part of our assessment giving us valuable information especially with patients who have balance issues. Loss of sensation in the feet, such as with peripheral neuropathy, can also be a cause of falls. If you are experiencing changes in how your feet are feeling talk to your doctor right away.

Fall prevention awareness isn’t just for older adults either. Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization for children aged 0-9 years. I was watching a viral video the other day; a young man got down on one knee to propose to a young lady in front of a seasonal display of pumpkins. Before he could get any words out a child of about 4 or 5 years walked by proudly carrying two small pumpkins and tripped over the extended foot of kneeling man. The child picked up her pumpkins and the young man apologized and carried on with his plan. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured but it just goes to show how easy it is for a fall to occur. We are all responsible for protecting each other and ourselves.

Stay tuned during the month of November as we share educational pieces, tips, and videos connecting pedorthic treatment to diabetes awareness and the prevention of falls.

To find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your area, please visit https://www.pedorthic.ca/find-a-pedorthist/

By: Jaime Nickerson, C. Ped (C)