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Meet a Pedorthist

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Meet a Pedorthist – Tanya Conrad

Tanya Conrad, C. Ped (C) is a busy mother of four who spends all of  her time either at her privately-owned clinic or at the dance studio cheering on her kids. Tanya grew up in the Maritimes and attended Dalhousie University, where she received her Bachelor of Kinesiology.

Tanya knew she wanted a career that allowed her to help people, which is why she completed her Kinesiology degree. However, her previous career path was not rewarding enough for her. She set off on a new path when her brother convinced her to take the Diploma in Pedorthics at Western University while she was pregnant with her third child! Tanya rather enjoyed being a “mature student” at Western and knew that pedorthics was the right path for her.

Upon graduating, she worked at a few different clinics and labs. Tanya very much enjoyed being a part of the manufacturing process and believes that it’s important to see orthotics are made.  After working for 2 years, Tanya was eager for another new adventure. She opened Excel Fitness & Orthotics two years ago and is loving every minute of being a clinic owner. She loves the flexibility and autonomy that it has allowed her to have; maintaining a work-life balance is very important to Tanya and her growing family.

Tanya’s favourite part about her job is helping people and hearing their success stories. She loves when her orthotics have helped a client with Parkinson’s or one who has suffered from a stroke. There is nothing more rewarding to her than bumping into a client on the street and hearing how much more active and better that they’ve been doing since using her orthotics.

Tanya encourages everyone to try new things and to not afraid to take a risk. She took a risk by starting a new career path at 38-years-old and she took a risk opening her own clinic but look at her now. She is standing strong and loving life. Tanya also truly believes in asking for help and guidance whenever you need it. Community and family are what got her where she is today.


Meet a Pedorthist – Kevin Carrington

Kevin Carrington was always an active child – a regular runner, and someone who played a lot of sports. But he was flat-footed, and relied on a pedorthist to help him participate in sports at a higher level.

“As a kid, I suffered injuries, so I kept this business in mind,” he says. “I thought it would be interesting.”

He received his undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Science in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. He then received his Diploma in Pedorthics with distinction from the University of Western Ontario in 2009 and became certified as a C. Ped (C) later that same year.

“My pedorthist (as a child) was the same person I did my placement with while at the University of Western Ontario,” he remembers. “It’s a small world.”

His favourite part of being a pedorthist is the daily interactions he has with people. “I’m a talker, so I enjoy speaking with people,” Kevin laughs, adding that the job also has significant rewards.

“I also enjoy being able to help people. There’s a gratification you get from having helped someone. Even if it’s something minor, allowing people to walk or run gives me a good feeling.”

Kevin is so passionate about helping others that he often returns to his former employer – The Running Room – to help with the company’s running clinics. Being active with The Running Room also ties into his passion for running and the outdoors. As someone who has always been active, he has no plans of stopping now. His enjoys remaining active in his spare time.

“I try to get outside, and I love being outside,” Kevin says. “I’m an avid runner – not at the competitive level, but just to get out there. I also play hockey and try to get on my bike once in a while.”

Kevin says he highly respected his mentors along the way, and thinks very highly of the pedorthic profession as a whole. He hopes that in the future, people will become more aware of the importance of pedorthists’ work.

“To this day, people often say, ‘what’s a pedorthist?’” Kevin says. “I want people to become more aware of what we do – which is help, and coincide with doctors to help better people’s lives.”


Meet a Pedorthist – Katia Langton

Katia Langton started her career as a Chiropractor, and practiced for 20 years.

While treating patients, she noticed they often had painful foot conditions, pronation and alignment issues – which caused them back problems.

To better understand the base of her patients’ issues, Katia, a Vancouver, British Columbia native discovered the Pedorthic field and became a Certified Pedorthist in the United States, and later, Canada.

She received her education at Simon Fraser University, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, International School of Pedorthics, and Western States Pedorthic program.

“In the U.S. there is a lot of focus on the diabetic foot since they have ten times the diabetic population we have,” says Katia, adding that her late mentor Bill Meanwell piqued her interest in the diabetic foot care area. “Prior to this, I did not know anything about diabetes affecting the feet and I started researching, learning, and going to conferences with a focus on Diabetic Foot Disease.”

She also received her C Ped (C) designation and opened a clinic with a wound care physician to help patients from all risk categories of the diabetic foot.

What she loves most about her work – and what she finds most rewarding – is catching the Charcot foot early in her patients.

“When we catch the Charcot foot early, and prevent the patient from progressing down that very deleterious pathway of diabetic foot complications, that is a true reward,” she says. “When the active Charcot phase becomes inactive, we know we have done our job well if we have met two goals; that the foot still looks like a foot and it is a shoe-able foot. Patients often return many months later to thank us.”

On April 27, 2016, Katia was honored to be appointed onto the Diabetic Foot Stream Committee of the International Diabetes Federation. In this role, she helps prevent diabetic foot complications on a global level by creating international guidelines to protect the diabetic foot that all health care practitioners can use. These Diabetic Foot Guidelines were published June 2017.  She also leads presentations on diabetic foot ulcers and amputations for health care professionals, and attends multiple conferences internationally to spread the word.

Katia works with a Diabetic Foot Care Nurse and runs multiple mobile Diabetic Foot Clinics, throughout BC. Her focus is seeing patients with Diabetes and with painful foot conditions that will eventually stop them walking due to pain.  A sedentary lifestyle will make patients susceptible to lifestyle related chronic diseases; the largest being Diabetes. 


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.


Meet a Pedorthist – Dan Steffens

Dan Steffens, C. Ped (C)

Dan Steffens, a clinic owner and Canadian Certified Pedorthist in Barrie, ON, started his career renting out a walk-in clinic and using his parents’ 200 square-foot basement as a lab. As time went on his client base grew, resulting in an abundance of positive casts in the already cramped basement.

When he outgrew that space, Dan moved to a healthcare complex and shared an office with his father. He remained there for about seven months and built up enough clients and referral sources to expand and open his own clinic.

“I ended up in the heart of Barrie and I opened my own multidisciplinary clinic – including physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, athletic therapy and of course my own pedorthic lab in the very back,” says Dan.

Dan graduated from the University of Guelph in Biological Science – Human Kinetics and continued his post-grad Diploma in Pedorthics at Western University.

“Seeing the intricacy of the foot in my anatomy class really sparked my interest in pedorthics,” Dan remembers. “Learning about the 26 bones, 33 joints and 100 different muscles, tendons and ligaments were also intriguing as well. I have always enjoyed working with my hands and in a healthcare setting.”

Dan enjoys many aspects of the job – including seeing the biomechanical changes immediately after an orthotic is applied. 

“This makes it a very reassuring profession in my opinion, as we can actually see the changes in gait. I also love working with my hands and have always been a tactile learner, which also makes it the perfect career choice for me,” he says.

Dan also finds the job rewarding, especially when he makes follow-up calls after the patient picks up a pair of orthotics. 

“I love hearing the difference I have made in their everyday lifestyle and if there wasn’t success with the original pair of orthotics, I love the challenge for the modifications that need to be applied to the orthotics,” he says.

Outside of work, Dan enjoys playing any kind of sports including wakeboarding, hockey, and frisbee. Not to mention “slicing golf balls and going to church on the weekends.”


Meet a Pedorthist – Christy Shantz

Christy Shantz, C. Ped Tech (C), C. Ped (C)

Christy Shantz always thought she would be a chiropractor – but when she took a job in a pedorthic clinic to make money after school, she knew the pedorthic profession was for her.

“After a year of working in the clinic, I realized that I really enjoyed working with the patients in a hands-on setting and helping to make a difference in their lives,” says Christy, who has now been in the profession for more than 16 years.

She earned a degree in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo, and after her experience at the pedorthic clinic, Christy went on to become a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, and is now the owner of the clinic where she first started out.

Throughout her career, she has remained passionate about her work and loves many aspects of her job.  She adds that her work has been very rewarding throughout the years, and says it feels great to know she has made a difference in her patients’ lives.

“I love the feeling when a patient comes to me in so much pain and I’m able to make a difference in the quality of their lives,” Christy says. “Knowing that I’ve helped people enjoy their activities more comfortably, and in some cases avoiding surgery, it’s an awesome feeling.”

Christy has been a mentor for 12 budding pedorthists, and has enjoyed working with students in the pedorthic program at Western University and helping them earn their certification.

As a self-described “tom-boy,” Christy says she has always loved sports and continues to play in her spare time. She used to run track in university and play soccer, and now plays football, and enjoys golfing with her children.


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