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Orthotics: Re-Alignment for Your Feet and Body

Orthotics is a term that refers to orthopaedic devices that are used to modify functioning in the skeletal structure of the human body especially in the foot. They are therefore instrumental when it comes to the treatment and adjustment of neuromuscular disorders. Poor foot biomechanics can lead to a wide range of problems including foot ankle, knee, pelvis, and even back pain and injuries.

Orthotics can be broadly divided into: 

Simple orthotics These are commercially made devices that you can obtain from your local chemist. They include in-soles, heel caps and many others.
   
Custom made orthotics This type of orthotics is made specifically for a particular patient to treat their specific foot disorder.

To make a custom orthotic, your doctor will use an impression of your foot for instance in order to get the size and dimensions right. This impression is usually referred to as a cast. The cast is then used to create an orthotic device that will correct the particular problems in your body’s biomechanics.

Advantages of Custom Orthotics

They are person specific and therefore they treat the condition one is suffering from conclusively

They are only prescribed after a thorough examination by a physician. Chances of them being ill-fitting are very slim

They promote an overall wellness in the entire body and not just in the part that they designed to correct or support. For instance a foot orthotic device will also help reduce back pain and correct posture.

They are great pain relievers

They prevent long term damage to limbs which may result in abnormal gait

Uses of Orthotics 

To promote healing of fractures especially if a cast was in place before
To aid in proper movement
To restrict movement in the event of an injury
To control, guide or immobilize particular joints for one reason or another
For pain reduction
To correct the shape of a particular part of the body
To help ease the pressure on a particular part of the body

Materials Used to Make Orthotics

There are several types of materials that can be used in the manufacture of orthotics. Some of these include:

Thermoplastics

Carbon fibre

Metal

EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate)

These materials may be used in isolation or combination depending on the orthotic device being made.

Types of Orthotics 

 Upper limb orthotics
 Lower limb orthotics
 Spinal orthotics

Upper limb orthotics include those designed for use on the hand, wrist, shoulder, clavicular, elbow and arm. Lower limb orthotic devices include those manufactured for use on the foot, knee, ankle and other sections of the body that fall in this category. Spinal orthotics are used in the treatment of Scoliosis, fractures of the spine and other spinal deformities.

Are Orthotics Effective?

There has been a lot of debate around the use of orthotics ant their use in treatment of common foot injuries. Is it really worth the amount of money you pay? Well perhaps the best placed people to answer this question are athletes and people suffering from multiple injuries as a result of overuse.

For people who use orthotics before an injury, they put your foot in the ideal position for you to take part in the activity you are engaging in. Walking, jumping, running or even sprinting is made much easier and safer when orthotic devices are used.

After an injury, orthotic devices are the best if you want to promote speedy healing and at the same time reduce further damage to a section of the body. There is a high demand for custom made orthotics these days and it is this necessity that has led to never seen before developments in the orthotic industry.

3D printing and gait analysis videos are the latest in the field of orthotics with science opening a world of opportunities to patients who need orthotic devices.

The Future of Orthotics

Huge strides have been made in the field of orthotics and prosthetics. With the sports world getting more and more daring, there is need for better orthotics not just in terms of design but also in terms of performance. You can browse around to familiarize yourself with these new devices and even buy some online!

New materials are now being used to develop orthotics. One major characteristic of these new materials is that they are extremely light weight. This makes them more comfortable for the wearer and more responsive when it comes to treatment of injuries and deformities. 

Orthotics can now be connected to the brain so that signals are sent to the CNS that corresponds to the movement that is intended. This means that in the future persons with orthotics will be able to function just as well and just as fast as any other individual.