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Kelowna Pedorthist Studying Craft of Custom Boot Making

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In 2015, my goal is to write the exam to become a Certified Pedorthic Master Craftsman, which means I will be certified in the craft of custom shoe design and manufacturing. There are only five Pedorthists in Canada with this designation, so becoming the sixth would be a great accomplishment.  

Although I qualified as a Canadian Certified Pedorthist and a Certified Pedorthic Technician in the late ‘90s I have always wanted to take my pedorthic training to the next level.  In 2007 I travelled to Oregon and took a 120 hour course on custom boot making with DW Frommer, a custom western boot maker. DW has a reputation for clean, precise workmanship and being a great teacher. He builds his boots using turn of the century traditions and handmade methods, and the tools, machinery, equipment and techniques he uses transfer directly into orthopedic shoe making.

In recent years I have been mentored by an American custom orthopaedic shoe and boot maker in Montana. Working under his leadership I have enhanced my skills in last (models used to make and repair shoes) and pattern making for orthopaedic shoes rather than fabricating shoes from stock lasts. I plan to attend a course in pattern making in the new year to further prepare for the exam.

People living with debilitating diseases and disorders such as Post-Polio, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis often are unable to fit into over-the-counter shoes. Master Craftsmen can build custom footwear to accommodate the specific needs of these types of patients with hopes of improving their quality of life.

Making custom footwear is a time consuming, precise job – it typically takes me 40+ hours (depending on the patient’s needs) – to make a pair of custom boots or shoes. However, the work is very rewarding, as custom footwear makes an enormous difference to the mobility and comfort of individuals who require it.

Although qualifying as a Master Craftsman will be the achievement of a career long dream, I enjoy all areas of pedorthics including gait analysis, biomechanical assessment, orthotic fabrication and shoe modification. I have worked in pedorthics for nearly 20 years and I still get tremendous pleasure watching how pedorthic treatment eases a patient’s pain and helps them walk.

By Sean MacMillan, C. Ped (C), C. Ped Tech (C), Kelowna, BC

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