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Feb 28

Written by: Larry Huppin, DPM
2/28/2013 4:20 PM

There is an article published in the new issue of Lower Extremity Review that we are recommending for all ProLab clients. It is a review of current, past and upcoming materials used in orthotic manufacturing. A quote by Kevin Kirby, DPM in the article helps explain why this is important information for orthotic practitioners.

“It’s critical to understand how these different materials work,” said Kevin Kirby, DPM, an adjunct associate professor at the California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt College in Oakland. “Some resist compression but have very little torsional stiffness; that class is called shank-dependent and includes the various foam products. Shank-independent materials, by contrast, have their own internal rigidity, so they can act independently of the shoe shank to resist deformation from the foot.”
That category, Kirby explained, includes thermoplastics and carbon composites.

The article also discusses how orthotic matreials contribute to the function of the orthoses. As Simon Spooner, PhD says in the article:

“Foot orthoses work by modifying the reaction forces at the foot–orthosis interface,” Spooner said. “They can do that in only three ways—by modifying the surface topography of that interface, by modifying its load deformation characteristics, or by modifying its friction characteristics.”

Dr. Spooner’s discussion on orthotic deformation and orthotic friction are well worth reading

Spooner also notes that:
“from a biomechanical perspective, shape is at least as important as material.” Research bolsters this position regarding comfort, as well. In a study published last year, Australian scientists reported that healthy individuals prioritized contouring over hardness when judging orthoses’ comfort

The article finishes by looking at the future of orthotic fabrication.

Click here to read Trends in Materials: Foot Orthoses

ProLab takes a scientific approach with our orthoses by integrating evidence-based medicine into orthotic therapy. Our team of Medical Consultants regularly evaluates the medical literature pertaining to orthotic therapy and biomechanics. ProLab clients are encouraged to contact a medical consultant whenever they have questions about an orthotic prescription.

For an easy way to stay up-to-date on evidence-based orthotic therapy, subscribe to our free E-Journal. Your will receive a monthly email synopsis of the research that impacts your practice.  


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