Many of us have heard the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We eat our dark leafy greens and lean protein to ward off heart disease and wear helmets to minimize head and brain injury upon impact. We even have products applied to our cars to prevent premature corrosion of its metallic parts. Some may say, awareness of these issues is half the battle.
You may already know that November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Fall Prevention Month in Canada. The premise behind these campaigns is to raise awareness and educate the Canadian public so that prevention is top of mind and the prevalence of Diabetes and falls is reduced. As Canadian Certified Pedorthists, these two areas are close to our heart. The Pedorthic Association of Canada acknowledges awareness and prevention in these areas as a key element of living a long, healthy life. We see on a daily basis how foot care and proper footwear choice can help protect you from the damaging effects of both.
Diabetes Awareness Month
In 2018, Statistics Canada published results from a 2017 survey that stated, “7.3% of Canadians aged 12 and older (roughly 2.3 million people) reported being diagnosed with diabetes.” Diabetes Canada suggests that 90% of Canadians living with diabetes have been diagnosed with Type 2. They list the following ways to reduce your chances of developing complications due to Type 2 Diabetes:
- Keep your blood sugar within your target range
- Avoid smoking
- Keep your cholesterol and other blood fats within your target range
- Keep your blood pressure within your target range
- Take care of your feet
- Regularly visit with your doctor, diabetes team, dentist and eye-care specialist
We talk a lot about Diabetes in the pedorthic clinic due to its ability to disrupt the network of nerves responsible for sending and receiving messages to and from the brain (known as peripheral neuropathy) and its impact on the normal wound healing process, especially in the legs and feet. The risk of foot ulceration, for example, can be reduced with well-fitting footwear, full-contact custom foot orthotics, and daily inspections of your feet and shoes. This includes making sure your feet are clean and dry before putting seamless socks on and, before putting them on, sweeping your hand inside your shoes to make sure there are no foreign objects like keys, golf balls, pins, or bunched up socks hiding inside. I’ve personally found some of these things inside clients’ shoes that they wore to the clinic!
Canadian Certified Pedorthist have hands-on training in the manufacturing of custom foot orthotics. We also have the skillset to make adjustments, modifications or accommodations, and add or remove padding to your orthotics or footwear to dissipate the pressure and friction that can lead to ulcers. Most C. Ped (C)s have open access to a lab, frequently right onsite, and will have essential materials and equipment on hand to make those vital changes when needed.
Fall Prevention Month
Fall Prevention Month states that 20-30% of seniors will fall each year and is the leading cause for injury-related hospitalizations each year. These falls often result in injuries such as bruises, muscle strains, ligament sprains, and/or broken bones. To reduce the risk of falling in your home, stairs and floors should always be clean and free of objects. Make sure indoor and outdoor areas where you are walking are well lit and that you remain aware of your surroundings. Footwear should be fitted by a trained professional such as a C. Ped (C) and be chosen for the activity and surfaces it will be used on. Canadian Certified Pedorthists conduct a detailed gait analysis (in other words, we watch the way a person walks) in each assessment and for every patient we see. We consider this an essential part of our assessment giving us valuable information especially with patients who have balance issues. Loss of sensation in the feet, such as with peripheral neuropathy, can also be a cause of falls. If you are experiencing changes in how your feet are feeling talk to your doctor right away.
Fall prevention awareness isn’t just for older adults either. Falls are the leading cause of hospitalization for children aged 0-9 years. I was watching a viral video the other day; a young man got down on one knee to propose to a young lady in front of a seasonal display of pumpkins. Before he could get any words out a child of about 4 or 5 years walked by proudly carrying two small pumpkins and tripped over the extended foot of kneeling man. The child picked up her pumpkins and the young man apologized and carried on with his plan. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured but it just goes to show how easy it is for a fall to occur. We are all responsible for protecting each other and ourselves.
Stay tuned during the month of November as we share educational pieces, tips, and videos connecting pedorthic treatment to diabetes awareness and the prevention of falls.
To find a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your area, please visit https://pedorthic.ca/find-a-pedorthist/
By: Jaime Nickerson, C. Ped (C)