A few years ago, I noticed a gentleman hobbling around our Halifax shoe store. I noticed he was trying an assortment of shoes that would be of no benefit to him so I approached him and suggested he speak to his family doctor about coming in for an assessment. He was encouraged by our conversation but he was still convinced there was no way to fix what he described as his “tick tock” leg.
Fortunately, the 64-year-old gentleman followed my recommendation and he returned for an assessment. He had four total hip replacements (twice per side) over the years which left him with a noticeable leg length discrepancy and he had been suffering from the effects of rheumatoid arthritis as a result of polio for many years. In addition to the leg length discrepancy, the gentleman’s rheumatoid arthritis had left him with some foot deformities and alignment issues. His resulting abnormal gait pattern had led to pain in his knees, hip and lower back. He was uncomfortable and frustrated but he had never sought help because he was certain nothing could be done.
I knew immediately that something could definitely be done. I began by fabricating a pair of custom foot orthotics with a semi flexible design to offer support to the arch and provide shock absorption. Using the proper position correction built into the orthotics I was able to stabilize his foot position. I also created a 1 cm lift to address his leg length discrepancy.  Finally, the gentleman and I selected a pair of deep, wide shoes to accommodate his new custom foot orthotics.
The patient was excited to get started with his new shoes and orthotics and I encouraged him to go and enjoy all the activities he hadn’t been able to for some time. He did exactly as I recommended. Today, his “tick tock” walk and pain have significantly decreased and he is very active, enjoying daily walks to stay fit. He is very appreciative that I approached him about an assessment when I first saw him hobbling through our store as he says his mobility and pain would be significantly different today if he did not have his custom orthotics and supportive shoes.
By Paul Makinen, C. Ped Tech (C), C. Ped (C), Halifax, NS