Orthotics are orthopedic devices made of lightweight materials that range in complexity from simple shoe inserts bought over-the-counter to custom-made devices that require impressions, casting, and computer technology to create.
A prescription foot orthosis is an in-shoe brace which is designed to correct for abnormal foot and lower extremity function. In correcting abnormal foot and lower extremity function, the prescription foot orthosis reduces the strain on injured structures in the foot and lower extremity, allowing them to heal and become non-painful. In addition, prescription foot orthoses help prevent future problems from occurring in the foot and lower extremity by reducing abnormal or pathological forces acting on the foot and lower extremity. A prescription foot orthosis is more commonly known by the public as a "foot orthotic".
The most common types of foot orthosis are:
- Arch supports: Some people have high arches. Others have low arches or flat feet. Arch supports generally have a “bumped-up” appearance and are designed to support the foot's natural arch.
- Insoles: Insoles slip into your shoe to provide extra cushioning and support. Insoles are often made of gel, foam, or plastic.
- Heel liners: Heel liners, sometimes called heel pads or heel cups, provide extra cushioning in the heel region. They may be especially useful for patients who have foot pain caused by age-related thinning of the heels' natural fat pads.
- Foot cushions: Do your shoes rub against your heel or your toes? Foot cushions come in many different shapes and sizes and can be used as a barrier between you and your shoe.
Prescription orthotics are divided into two categories:
Accommodative Foot Orthoses
Accommodative foot orthoses are used to cushion, pad or relieve pressure from a painful or injured area on the bottom of the foot. They may also be designed to try to control abnormal function of the foot. Accommodative orthoses may be made of a wide range of materials such as cork, leather, plastic foams, and rubber materials. They are generally more flexible and soft than functional foot orthoses.
Accommodative orthoses are useful in the treatment of painful callouses on the bottom of the foot, diabetic foot ulcerations, sore bones on the bottom of the foot and other types of foot pathology.
- The advantages of accommodative orthoses are that they are relatively soft and forgiving and are generally easy to adjust in shape after they are dispensed to the patient to improve comfort.
- The disadvantages of accommodative orthoses are that they are relatively bulky, have relatively poor durability, and often need frequent adjustments to allow them to continue working properly.
Accommodative orthoses are fabricated from a three dimensional model of the foot which may be made by taking a plaster mold of the foot, stepping into a box of compressible foam, or scanning the foot with a mechanical or optical scanner.
Functional Foot Orthoses
Functional foot orthoses are used to correct abnormal foot function and, in so doing, also correct for abnormal lower extremity function. Some types of functional foot orthoses may also be designed to accommodate painful areas on the bottoms of the foot, just like accommodative foot orthoses. Functional foot orthoses may be made of flexible, semi-rigid or rigid plastic or graphite materials. They are relatively thin and easily fit into most types of shoes. They are fabricated from a three dimensional model of the foot which may be made by taking a plaster mold of the foot, stepping into a box of compressible foam, or scanning the foot with a mechanical or optical scanner.
Functional foot orthoses are useful in the treatment of a very wide range of painful conditions of the foot and lower extremities. Big toe joint and lesser toe joint pain, arch and instep pain, ankle pain and heel pain are commonly treated with functional foot orthoses. Since abnormal foot function causes abnormal leg, knee and hip function, then functional foot orthoses are commonly also used to treat painful tendinitis and bursitis conditions in the ankle, knee and hip, in addition to shin splints in the legs. The advantages of functional foot orthoses are that they are relatively durable, infrequently require adjustments and more likely to fit into standard shoes. The disadvantages are that they are relatively difficult to adjust and relatively firm and less cushiony.
Latest Foot Orthotic Technology
Modern 3D surface scanning systems can obtain accurate and repeatable digital representations of the foot shape and have been successfully used in medical, ergonomic and footwear development applications. Foot scans can be analysed using Shoe Master Custom where the shape and dimensions of feet can be compared to lasts and lasts can be customised to fit an individual foot. So can manufacturers related apparel and devices for foot, particularly those interested in producing items that are customized to the individual.
Following your foot assessment, we scan your feet with a computerized measuring digitizer that transforms your footprint into a file that can be manipulated using specialized software. Once your foot scans have been modified on the computer by a trained orthotist then the file transfer to our manufacturing device.
Using state of the art cameras and lasers 2D and 3D foot scanner is fast, accurate, portable and easy to use.
The increasing affordability of these systems presents opportunities for:
- Scanning of human feet in clinics for ordering of prescription foot orthoses and documentation
- Scanning of professional clients' plaster casts for CADCAM fabrication of foot orthotic devices
- Quantitative and statistical studies of human feet to foot orthotic design for maximum comfort and fit
Academic research such as biomechanical engineering and sport science in relation to plantar foot structure.