Tired, achy feet could be a thing of the past, thanks to a new device that could revolutionize senior healthcare– the 3-D printer.
This new type of printer can print everything from body parts to pizza. In fact, people in the 3-D printing world say that “if you can draw it, you can make it.” One company is starting to use the technology to create custom orthotics that correct foot alignment problems that lead to tired, achy feet.
These inserts, created by the company Sols, could relieve many painful conditions that affect Cincinnati seniors, especially as plantar fasciitis.
Sols uses a computer app, or application, to stitch together hundreds of detailed pictures of your feet.
First, you put on a pair of special striped socks then scan your foot with an iPad. Using a process known as photogrammetry, the Sols app assembles the pictures to create a three-dimensional, virtual model of your foot in about 30 seconds. Your podiatrist then adjusts this model, such as altering the arch or repositioning the foot, to create a prescription insert that corrects common foot issues.
The podiatrist then sends this prescription to the Sols manufacturing facility, where a 3-D printer fuses a special blend of nylon powder to create the shape of the custom insert. The product is a durable foot support made from materials that hold their shape and resist microbes that can make your feet stink.
And to top it all off, you receive your new orthotic within days, instead of in weeks like the old days.
The Old Sole
Before Sols harness the power of the 3-D printer, creating a custom orthotic was a long and arduous chore. During a visit to the podiatrist, you would leave your footprint in a foam box which your doctor would use to check against a form to pinpoint modifications he hoped to create with an orthotic. He would then send this form, along with the foam box imprint of your foot, to the orthotics maker. A technician there would use the information on the form and the foam imprint to create a custom orthotic.
Creating orthotics the old-fashioned way is a lengthy and expensive process, sometimes taking weeks and costing hundreds of dollars. But even with all this time and effort, there is no assurance the podiatrist will describe the changes correctly or that technician will interpret the notes and impression well enough to create an effective insert.
After all that time and money, you might be stuck with an ineffective orthotic-- or worse, one that makes your feet hurt even more.
Senior Healthcare and Foot Pain
Pain at the bottom of the foot near the heel, known as plantar heel pain or plantar fasciitis, is one of the most common types of foot pain and is common among older adults. But senior healthcare is making strides in treatment.
A 2010 study compared four different types of shoe inserts: a heel cup made of silicone, a soft foam heel pad, a heel lift and a prefabricated foot orthotic. The scientists recruited 36 adults over the age of 65 with plantar heel pain to walk along an 8-meter walkway wearing standard shoes and each of the four inserts. The researchers then collected data from the participants’ heel, midfoot and forefoot.
The research showed that contoured prefabricated foot orthotics, similar to the ones Sol produces, are the most effective at reducing the heel pressure in older people with heel pain.
In fact, the prefabricated foot orthotics reduced plantar and heel pressure five times better than the next more effective insert. Medical professionals are not exactly sure how these orthotics decrease pressure and pain but can see that some inserts redistribute force evenly throughout the foot.
You rely on your feet to get you where you are going.
Without healthy, pain-free feet, you lose precious mobility and the ability to take care of yourself. Today’s senior healthcare utilizes the most advanced technology to keep Cincinnati seniors on their feet and on track.