Newswise — A new outpatient rehabilitation program at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics (RIAO) at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore is enhancing orthotic care with new pressure-sensing 3D technology that can help physicians more precisely pinpoint the cause of—and better treat—foot-related ailments.

The new orthotics program being offered by RIAO’s outpatient physical therapy department at Sinai features advanced foot scan technology that can enable physicians to perform a deep analysis of the form and movement of patients’ feet and design and produce custom-fit orthotics via 3D printing. 

“The great part of this technology is we can really get a great look at what the foot is doing when someone is standing and walking,” says Sara Goggin, a physical therapist and program development coordinator at RIAO. “We have patients walk across and do a couple of different activities on the force plate, and then the software on the computer makes us a map of the foot and it shows us exactly what area of the foot is having more pressure or less pressure, or is hitting at this time or not hitting at this time. We can also see any kind of compensations the person might be making. And using that information, we can help to design the best custom orthotic.”

Adds Goggin: “The old-fashioned way we used to make the orthotics, we would have the patients lie on their stomachs as we made a cast of their foot, and we’d use the casting of their foot to design the orthotic. With this new method, not only do we have access to 3D printing technology, but we can show patients where in the foot they’re having problems and what we want to help change with the orthotic. It’s such a great learning tool for the patients. You can really make patients more involved in their own care.”

A foot orthotic is a device that is inserted into the shoe to help support or prevent foot deformities and improve foot function. By helping with foot and ankle ailments, and combined with exercise, orthotics may also help address related issues with the knee, hip and back. Orthotics are commonly prescribed for adults and children with flat feet and can be particularly helpful after surgery, Goggin says.

“After you have a joint replacement or some kind of foot or ankle surgery, it does change the way your joints move. If you’re still having pain afterward, your orthotic can be a great tool to help with that pain as well as the different motions that you’re having because of the surgery,” Goggin says. “The pressure we put on our feet affects pressure all the way up the body. So, if we can reduce the pressures a little bit, it can help with pressure in the knee, it can help with pressure in the hip, even in the back.”

RIAO offers state-of-the-art orthopedic treatment for both children and adults. In addition to its locations at Sinai and Northwest hospitals, it has several satellite locations throughout the Baltimore area. Patients interested in the new orthotics program at Sinai must have a physician referral or a prescription for custom-made orthotics. To make an appointment, call 410-601-5945.

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