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October: A Focus on all things Pedorthics

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This month we’ll be focusing on all things pedorthics. Still not clear on what a Canadian Certified Pedorthist does or what pedorthic treatment involves? We’ll be covering all of this and more. Here are some answers to some commonly asked questions to get you started!

What is Pedorthics?

The word pedorthics (ped-or-thics) comes from the Latin word for ‘foot’ (ped or pes) and Greek word for ‘straight’ or ‘correct’ (ortho). The first known use of the word pedorthics was in 1974 when it was defined as “the art and practice of designing, making, and fitting therapeutic shoes for relieving painful or disabling conditions of the feet.” (Merriam-webster.com) The definition has evolved to also include other appliances such as custom foot orthoses (orthotics, orthotic inserts) and modifications to off-the-shelf devices and footwear.

What is the history of Pedorthics in Canada?

It’s estimated that footwear has a 40,000-year-old history and pedorthics has been practiced in some form or another since long before it was defined in the dictionary. Pedorthics, as a profession in Canada, is still relatively young. 

The Pedorthic Association of Canada (PAC) was established in 1990 under the mandate to promote the study, practice, and knowledge of pedorthics in Canada. The College of Pedorthics of Canada (CPC) was later established to protect the public by administering a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for all who hold a title a CPC designated title. CPC titles include Certified Pedorthic Master Craftsman, Certified Pedorthist (Canada), and Certified Pedorthic Technician (Canada); in short form they appear as C. Ped MC, C. Ped (C), and C. Ped Tech (C), respectively. To hold a title with the CPC, one must also be a member-in-good-standing with the PAC. Currently, PAC has about 650 active members.

What background do Pedorthists have?

Canadian Certified Pedothists come from a variety of educational and experiential backgrounds. Many were drawn to pedorthics through a university degree in kinesiology or other health sciences like physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Others may have found their way there by way of working in footwear retail. (I even know a pedorthist who retrained in pedorthics after a career in furniture making!) It is important to note that all those holding a title from the College of Pedorthics of Canada have fulfilled the requirements to hold that title which includes supervised hours, competency exams (written and practical), and regular audited completion of continuing education and ongoing professional development. (Interested in learning more about becoming a Pedorthist? Visit https://www.cpedcs.ca/certification-exams/become-a-pedorthist/)

What do Pedorthists do? What can they do for me?

Pedorthists have a number of tools in their toolbox. They are problem solvers who have a knack for finding creative solutions. There is both an art and a science to the work that pedorthists do. Solutions may be for the purpose of improving alignment for more effective motion, accommodating of painful or prominent areas, or stimulating proprioceptive mechanisms (i.e. your awareness of your body in space and how it’s moving). We’ll be sharing more on specific pedorthic treatments as the month goes on so stay tuned!

Where do Pedorthists work? Who do they work with?

Pedorthists work in a variety of settings. Many are in what is considered private practice working in clinic settings others work in public hospital environments. Some work in a pedorthic-centric space, some work in multi-disciplinary spaces. Some are stationary, based in the same clinic everyday, while others are mobile and travel to provide service to more rural or isolated communities. Many pedorthists are also entrepreneurs having started their own clinics, labs, or retail shoe stores. Whether under the same roof or not, pedorthists pride themselves on being an important part of the health care team and work closely with doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, surgeons, orthotists, and, perhaps most importantly, the clients themselves, to provide comprehensive care.

How do I get an appointment to see a Pedorthist?

You may start with a referral and prescription from your primary health care provider such as your family doctor, GP or Nurse Practitioner. To find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your area visit https://www.pedorthic.ca/find-a-pedorthist/ where you can search by location, name, or organization. Give one a call today! They will be happy to address your questions and welcome you in for a consultation and/ or assessment.

By Jaime Nickerson, C. Ped (C), B.Sc. (Kin), Dip. Pedorthics

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