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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Comparison of foot orthoses made by podiatrists, pedorthists and orthotists regarding plantar pressure reduction in The Netherlands

Nick A Guldemond1*, Pieter Leffers2, Nicolaas C Schaper3, Antal P Sanders4, Fred HM Nieman5 and Geert HIM Walenkamp1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands

2 Department of Epidemiology, University Maastricht, The Netherlands

3 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands

4 Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands

5 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Technology Assessment, University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2005, 6:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-6-61

Published: 20 December 2005

Abstract

Background

There is a need for evidence of clinical effectiveness of foot orthosis therapy. This study evaluated the effect of foot orthoses made by ten podiatrists, ten pedorthists and eleven orthotists on plantar pressure and walking convenience for three patients with metatarsalgia. Aims were to assess differences and variability between and within the disciplines. The relationship between the importance of pressure reduction and the effect on peak pressure was also evaluated.

Methods

Each therapist examined all three patients and was asked to rate the 'importance of pressure reduction' through a visual analogue scale. The orthoses were evaluated twice in two sessions while the patient walked on a treadmill. Plantar pressures were recorded with an in-sole measuring system. Patients scored walking convenience per orthosis. The effects of the orthoses on peak pressure reduction were calculated for the whole plantar surface of the forefoot and six regions: big toe and metatarsal one to five.

Results

Within each discipline there was an extensive variation in construction of the orthoses and achieved peak pressure reductions. Pedorthists and orthotists achieved greater maximal peak pressure reductions calculated over the whole forefoot than podiatrists: 960, 1020 and 750 kPa, respectively (p < .001). This was also true for the effect in the regions with the highest baseline peak pressures and walking convenience rated by patients A and B. There was a weak relationship between the 'importance of pressure reduction' and the achieved pressure reduction for orthotists, but no relationship for podiatrists and pedorthotists.

Conclusion

The large variation for various aspects of foot orthoses therapy raises questions about a consistent use of concepts for pressures management within the professional groups.