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Meet A Pedorthist

Meet a Pedorthist – Jenna Dibblee, C. Ped (C)

While pursuing an education in athletic therapy, Jenna Dibblee, C. Ped (C), found herself struggling with sidelining athletes due to pain or injury. She always strived to find a safe solution to allow participation. Her interest in bracing led her to start job shadowing a pedorthist during her undergraduate studies in Kingston, ON. Learning from a mentor opened her eyes to a field she was unaware of at the beginning of her educational path.

After receiving her pedorthic certification, Jenna began working as a pedorthist in Ottawa, making custom orthotics and specializing in orthopedic bracing. At the same time, she worked at Carleton University as a certified athletic therapist with the varsity rugby team. Since then, she has moved to Port Perry, ON where she works seasonally as an athletic therapist at Ontario Tech University, and part time at BioPed Lindsay as a pedorthist.

Jenna finds her work very rewarding, especially when patients with knee osteoarthritis try on an unloading knee brace and notice instantaneously decreased pain. “The looks of shock and tears of relief are well worth the investment,” she says. Jenna always tries to make a lasting connection with her patients. “We have the privilege to spend adequate one-on-one time with patients so that they feel heard and that their concerns are addressed.” She finds that patients are appreciative when pedorthists focus on patient education.

Her clinic having reopened since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenna’s appointments are now scheduled further apart to allow for thorough disinfecting and sanitizing procedures. Staff at her clinic are all equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment and patients are screened prior to and upon arrival.

Jenna hopes to one day pursue her master’s degree in rehabilitation sciences so she can teach and inspire future students in the applied health care field.

Meet a Pedorthist – Laura Pantano, C. Ped (C)

In her years after high school, Laura Pantano, C. Ped (C), was unsure what career path to take. She went to college for dental assisting, but after completing the program she decided to apply to Brock University’s Kinesiology program. Having grown up playing soccer and sustaining a few injuries along the way, Laura was always interested in researching ways to improve her recovery. After graduating, she was offered an apprenticeship at a pedorthics clinic. Though this opportunity did not work out, Laura was set on a career path and studied to get a diploma in pedorthics.

After receiving her PAC certification, Laura worked for four years in the clinic where she completed her final educational placement. There, she learned practices for fabrication and casting. After that, Laura found an open position for a pedorthist at a local prosthetic and orthotic clinic near her home in the Niagara region. She was thrilled at the opportunity to work alongside prosthetists and orthotists and has since been caring for a range of patients she never imagined. “From custom made knee ankle foot orthosis (KAFO) devices to prosthetic limbs through osteointegration, the diversity of the patient population that comes through our doors is immense,” Laura says.

Laura has been integrating the latest scanning and 3D printing technology into foot orthotics. Her company is developing a device using 3D printing that is just as good, if not better than the traditional fabricated foot orthotic. “We have a great team of technicians that I work alongside and hopefully by 2021 I can start dispensing (the new orthotics) regularly,” Laura says.

Laura tries not to bring her workday – good or bad – into her home. “Since we spend the majority of our time outside of our families, I give mine my full attention when at home,” she says. Laura has three children, two of which are twins. In her spare time, she loves to play soccer, although her league is currently shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, she has taken up long distance running. Laura also loves being outdoors with her children, riding bikes, going to the beach, hiking, and playing in their backyard.

Meet a Pedorthist – Heidi Scott, C. Ped (C)

Heidi Scott, C. Ped (C), found herself driven toward a career in pedorthics after gaining experience early on working with mobility challenged children. After founding HealthQuest in 1995, she operated as an independent health supply business in Newfoundland and Labrador. After 20 years of building the now well-known and respected HealthQuest, Heidi sold her business and relocated to Ontario. There, she works as an independent vendor licensee with the Hudson’s Bay Company.

For Heidi, the most rewarding thing about being a pedorthist is her relationship with her clients. She says a pedorthist should always appreciate their clients’ and welcome suggestions “you can’t fix what you never hear about, so I really appreciate client feedback”, she sees it as an opportunity to improve on evolve to a best level of service.

Heidi is very proud of her accomplishments with HealthQuest. Growing a business that has become so widely known has allowed her reach to extend to more people in need of a pedorthist’s help. Under Heidi’s ownership, HealthQuestexpanded operations four times, having opened two locations in Newfoundland and Labrador – one in St. John’s and one in Grand Falls-Windsor.

“I’m also very happy that I was able to attract the attention of a major national brand like the Hudson’s Bay Company,” she says. “I’m happy to be working in partnership with them.” In the future, Heidi looks to expand her presence within the Hudson’sBay Company’s landscape.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Heidi’s practice reopened and has begun taking appointments again. In addition to the recommended hygiene protocols, appointments are scheduled further apart, and Heidi holds virtual consults for clients.

Outside of pedorthics, Heidi loves golfing, boating, and James Bond movies.

Meet a Pedorthist – Julia Hayman, C. Ped (C)

Julia Hayman’s, C. Ped (C), interest in pedorthics started at only 13 years old, after receiving her first pair of orthotics from a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. This interaction later inspired her to pursue a degree in Kinesiology with a specialization in pedorthics from the University of Western Ontario. Today, she’s living in Barrie, ON as a Certified Pedorthist with over five years of experience in the field. Julia believes patience and understanding are what makes a great pedorthist.

About a year and half ago, Julia proudly opened her own practice, On the Ball Orthotics. She wants to continue building her practice with other Pedorthists and teach a few students along the way. Julia is passionate about discovering innovative pain relief solutions for her patients.

Julia has reopened On the Ball Orthotics since the COVID-19 closure. The clinic now provides hand sanitizer, pre-screening procedures, and increased room disinfecting in between appointments for all patients. They also encourage patients to book their visits ahead of time.

When she’s not working with patients, she could be playing beach and court volleyball, water and downhill skiing, hiking, biking, or running. She also enjoys volunteering, cooking, and baking on her spare time.

Julia’s advice for aspiring pedortists:

“Always continue to learn from others. There are so many different techniques and new knowledge to learn. The same treatment doesn’t work for everyone, and sometimes you need to think outside of your normal routine to come up with a solution.”

Meet a Pedorthist – Sean Murray, C. Ped (C)

Sean Murray, C. Ped (C) lives in Gloucester, ON has been practicing pedorthics for 30 years and now works at his clinic in Ottawa – Ottawa Sport & Health Clinic. He loves to travel, stay active and plays golf and hockey on his free time.

Upon completing his diploma in Sport Injury Management from Sheridan College, he knew he needed a career that would fulfil his fascination of biomechanics. He began to connect with athletic therapists and started learning about orthotic design and manufacturing; it was then that he shifted his focus from treating pain to preventing pain using orthotics.

After Sean completed his C. Ped (C) certification, he branched out into a partnership and opened a privately-owned orthotic clinic, where he established an on-site lab for manufacturing. After a few years, he also joined in with a newly formed sports injury clinic. Sean was drawn to the idea of this new clinic because it encompassed many services to meet all patient needs. From bracing, to chiropractic needs, to orthotics, his clinic employs a team of incredible experts. Sean loves being self-employed and enjoys working with a team of like-minded health care professionals. He is proud of his long-lasting relationships with both patients and specialists in his community. In fact, his network had grown so much that he established several satellite clinics in Ottawa to reach an even broader audience.

Sean is incredibly happy that he gets to help people everyday. His favourite feeling is when a patient tries orthotics instead of getting surgery, and the orthotic works! There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a client pain-free and active again.

He has two pieces of advice for pedorthists out there.

  1. “Don’t oversell. People are putting their trust in us to recommend appropriate care and if you oversell or over promise, that not only tarnishes the industry but your individual reputation. Much of my success if based off word of mouth. You cannot afford unhappy patients.”
  2. “Take the opportunity to network in the Association and take advantage of the Symposiums. Much of my learning has been the result of interesting keynote speakers and colleagues. Over the years, I have also participated in the pedorthic placement program. These mentoring opportunities have been very fulfilling for me personally.”

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.”

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