What to Podiatrists do?

Podiatry is that health vocation that is concerned with the treating and prevention of disorders of the feet and related conditions. The foot is such a sophisticated structure with a lot of bones, muscles, ligaments which get confronted with all the demands from running and walking; as well as being squeezed into the dark and damp environment of the footwear that it needs a whole profession dedicated to the issues with it. The issues can range from modest skin complaints such as bunions to orthopaedic problems such as heel spurs to broken bones.

The specific scope of practice of a podiatrist will change from country to country with some places like the USA where Podiatrists have full surgical and medical rights to manage the conditions of the foot to some places in Europe where they are able to only use minimal methods to take care of superficial disorders of the skin and nails. The education needed to be a podiatrist is very different between countries. In the USA, first you need an undergrad degree, then a 4 year post graduate podiatry qualification and then a 2-3 year residency. In some places in Europe, its simply a community college one year undergrad qualification. Exactly what a podiatrist is capable of doing is determined by the extent of the education and the law.

Podiatrists are able to use a wide range of different techniques to treat conditions of the foot. This may range from a simple scraping of skin problems to foot supports for musculoskeletal problems to reconstructive surgery for fractures. What exactly is used will depend on the above scope of practice and training that the podiatrist has received. Many podiatrists will also have different special interests such a diabetes or orthopaedics and they will often be found employed in multidisciplinary groups working in those disciplines. Probably the best contribution that podiatrists make to the medical care system is in areas like diabetes where appropriate foot care and the management of foot problems result in considerable saving to the health system in the prevention of amputations.

What is PodChatLive?

PodChatLive is a regular monthly online livestream discussion for podiatrists and others involved in the subject which is streamed live on Facebook and it's also available later as a replay on YouTube, the website and the common podcast platforms such as iTunes and Spotify for the audio version. In each show both hosts have on a number of guests and discuss a variety of issues of relevance to podiatrists and the lower leg. Through the livestream, questions may be asked by those viewing during real time and the hosts and guests respond to them. The livestream has gathered an extensive following and is very popular in the podiatry profession.

The hosts of PodChatLive are Ian Griffiths and Craig Payne, both podiatrists. The show commenced one night when Craig was visiting Ian and they went live from Ian’s lounge to have a chat live on Facebook about whatever came up. It was later on named PodChatLive when they noticed that it proved helpful and they were getting a following. Craig is located in Melbourne and he admins the discussion forum, Podiatry Arena and runs the online courses for the Clinical Biomechanics Bootcamp. Ian is a sports podiatrist in London. The livestream did start off as a weekly broadcast, but as it is not monetized, it was just too much work for the hosts to keep it up, so following the first year it was changed to a monthly livestream.

Sometimes the discussion is about clinical topics such as types of foot problems, other times it talks about business issues like social media advertising. In other episodes the guest is someone famous inside the podiatry profession and so they focus on a wide range of issues with the guest. Some episodes are much more popular than the others and at times the hosts get amazed just how popular some shows are as they weren't always anticipating that episode to be as popular as what it was.

Why Podiatrists try to get the right dosing of foot orthotics

The thought of foot orthotic dosing may be having some more awareness in recent times. It is actually in line with the analogy of drugs dose. Everybody who may be on a unique drug or medicine for any medical problem really should on paper be on a specific dosage or amount of that medication. The same needs to be the situation pertaining to foot supports. A unique “dose” of foot orthoses should be applied. Too often foot orthoses are all given the similar dosage of foot supports, especially in clinical studies or research. An episode of the monthly podiatry livestream, PodChatLive  addressed this concern. The hosts of that episode chatted with Simon Spooner in order to focus on some of the constraints of foot orthotics analysis in accordance with the principle. They brought up the way in which clinicians ought to be watching all results from research made in the context of the constraints. They reviewed about what “perfect” foot orthotic research may look like, the points we might need to ‘measure’ and also the apparent discussion between the lab and the clinic. Even more importantly they described what ‘dosing’ is, and the way it may also help us resolve concerns that are at present left unanswered.

Dr Simon Spooner graduated as a Podiatrist in 1991 graduating from the University of Brighton in the UK, and in addition to his BSc in Podiatry, he had been given the Paul Shenton award for his research into callus. Then he continued to finish his PhD in Podiatry from the University of Leicester in 1997, in which he studied the reasons and therapy for inherited foot problems. Simon is now the Director of Podiatry at Peninsula Podiatry. His practice expertise include exercise medicine, foot orthotics, and paediatric and adult foot and gait disorder. Along with his own clinical practice, he has published many research papers on podiatry issues and has delivered lectures at both national and international conventions, and furnished postgraduate education for several National Health Service Trusts.