ORTHOTICS - Computer scans vs. Traditional Methods

The latest craze in the field of custom orthotics is the use of computers to generate data to produce a custom fitted orthotic. The basic premise is that if you walk or stand on a mat that is interfaced with a computer and the appropriate software, the results should produce an orthotic that will minimize the pressure points and evenly distribute the weight across the entire surface of the sole. In theory, that is one of the things a well crafted orthotic should do. In practicality, the technology falls short. The computer generates two-dimensional data. This information is now used to fabricate a three-dimensional appliance. A disjoint that has grave shortcomings.


Secondly, none of us are symmetric. Any side-to-side variations that occur will be compensated for without determining the root cause of the variation. For example , a leg length discrepancy will show a tilt causing an outward pressure on the shorter leg and an inward pressure on the longer one. The correct method would be to cast using a subtalar neutral position and compensate for the leg length discrepancy as required. Lastly, if one has an injury, there is a tendency to protect and favor. This will alter the gait and give false readings that will force the individual wearing the orthotics to walk this altered way as long as they wear the orthotics. Unfortunately, the field of custom orthotics must use tried and true methods to be successful. A thorough four step process must be followed - questionnaire, biomechanical exam, manual impression, and gait analysis.