Plenty of Shoes to Fill

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By Karen Henry

The typical adult human skeleton has 206 bones. The human feet-with 26 bones each-accounts for just over 25 percent of the bones in the human body. From a purely statistical standpoint, this is significant, but when you consider the havoc that foot problems can wreak on the rest of the body, the biological implications seem even more significant.

As any pedorthist can attest, when our feet fail us, the impact can travel up the biomechanical chain into the ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders, and neck. And yet I'd venture a guess that the typical American takes his or her feet for granted. Research seems to bear this out. According to a 2012 survey commissioned by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), "six out of ten teens are affected by foot pain that keeps them from daily activities at least some of the time." A 2011 APMA survey found that "72 percent of Americans say they do not exercise because foot pain prevents them from doing so." The APMA conducts these surveys, in part, to discover U.S. attitudes toward foot health and foot care, but it is also seeking to discover the average American's knowledge and experience with a podiatrist.

In today's evidence-based world, surveys such as these-and the awareness campaigns that generally accompany them-have the potential to move a profession from obscurity into the spotlight. Although the pedorthic profession continues to struggle with awareness issues (see "Staying Relevant: How Pedorthists Are Blazing their Professional Trail,"), it seems as if the pedorthic profession is well poised to gain some traction in this regard.

Jerry Wilson, MEd, CPed, education specialist at ProLearn, Tulsa, Oklahoma, says that with the growing need for foot care professionals to assist in the care of persons with diabetes, the United States "could use 100,000 pedorthists." Regardless of whether this number presents a realistic projection, it seems clear that for pedorthists, there are plenty of shoes to fill. This month's issue of The O&P EDGE is focused on the specialized care that pedorthic professionals provide as well as the ways that pedorthists are beginning to "Blaze their Professional Trail." As pedorthists continue to move along an evolving professional trajectory, we'd love to hear what you are doing to help educate your patients, referral sources, and the general public about the important care and services you provide. Send an e-mail to and let us know.

Thanks for reading.

-Karen Henry