A pedorthist is a medical professional who specializes in the use of footwear and supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs. Pedorthists work with a variety of people, from athletes to diabetics, promoting foot health, maximum mobility, and comfort. Several organizations offer pedorthics certification, although as of 2008 no industry-wide standard had been created.
In order to become a pedorthist, someone must usually study anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, to learn about how the body moves and which conditions affect the feet and lower legs. Typically an associate's degree is all that is required before a pedorthist trains specifically with an institution which teaches people how to apply corrective footwear and orthotic devices to patient care. After completion of training, a pedorthist can apply for certification through a professional organization and then pursue a career.
The services of a pedorthist can be valuable in the treatment of a wide range of conditions. Using proper footwear can be vital for people with conditions like diabetes, for example, to ensure that the feet are supported and comfortable. Pedorthics devices can also be used to increase mobility for people with disabilities, and to handle specific circumstances like partial foot amputations. Many professional athletes also use the services of a pedorthist to help them select the most efficient and suitable footwear for their sports and body types.
Often, a pedorthist works with a podiatrist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of conditions of the feet. The podiatrist may recommend a pedorthist to a patient, sending information about the patient to the pedorthist so that the specialist can assist the patient with his or her needs. Pedorthists can also work with physical therapists and other support staff to help patients live active, healthy lives.
In addition to working with a range of specialized footwear, a pedorthist can also make custom modifications to shoes, or develop orthotic devices to help a patient with a specific problem. Frequent visits may be recommended to ensure that the footwear still fits and meets the needs of the patient, with the pedorthist making adjustments as necessary.
Using a pedorthist can be expensive, but proper support for the feet and lower legs is critical. Although orthotic shoes may be pricey or cumbersome, pedorthists believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. Many insurance companies recognize that a pedorthist can play an important role in patient care, and pedorthic services are increasingly covered by major insurance companies, along with prescribed shoes and devices.