Orthosis, orthoses, or orthotic?
Terminology can often add to the confusion of a subject. Words used in different settings can mean very different things. Words mispronounced can lead to completely new words which then take on a life of their own. Google, somewhat inadvertently, or perhaps advertently, given that they make their coin from adverts, are, perhaps, complicit in the whole affair.
The word “orthosis” is a great example. An orthosis is a device that provides correction, support or protection to a part of the body. Foot orthoses (plural of orthosis and also abbreviated to FO) are also referred to as orthotics, which can be further classified by the materials used in their manufacture to be defined as either a functional foot orthoses (FFO) or accommodative foot orthoses...but an AFO which you might think would be the obvious next acronym for the terminology of an accommodative foot orthoses, actually refers to an ankle foot orthosis which is a brace extending above the foot to encompass the ankle and a completely different device to an accommodative orthotic.
Confused? You will be after the next episode of Pedorthic Terminology.
Orthotics or orthodics?
This is where Google comes into the mix. Mispronunciations of the worth orthotic to orthodic lead to searches for the word “orthodic.” Once a critical mass is reached and enough people search for the word “orthodic” and even though Google might try to steer them to the correct term “orthotic”, a whole new word is created. In the competitive world of pay-per-click, some companies have actually embraced the word orthodic and pay Google for the misspelled key word search. It’s crazy I know, but “Google” the phrase “Walk Fit Shoe Orthodics” and you’ll see what I’m talking about, (if I made it easy and give you the link then I’d be complicit in word fraud).
So what is an orthotic?
So this is what you need to know about orthotics. Orthotic is the right word to use when talking about orthoses (plural) for the foot and there are two types of orthotics.
An orthotic can be designed to act as a biomechanical functional device to control joint movement by a series of levers known as posts or wedges placed on the bottom surface of the orthosis shell. They work by deviating ground reactive forces through altered and ideally neutral positions of joints. Often a functional orthotic can resolve many issues of alignment particularly with lower back pain often caused by something as simple as a leg length difference. Our functional orthotics are branded Genext Orthotics
Accommodative orthotics also known as accommodative inserts.
Accommodative orthotics do not try to correct a gait pattern or an alignment issue but rather they are designed to address foot issues caused by decreasing areas of peak pressure and reducing dynamic friction on the foot surface. The orthotic is designed to offload pressure points and evenly distribute weight across the whole plantar or sole surface of the foot. Our accommodative orthotics are branded Pedors 3P Inserts, which are fitted as inserts into footwear for diabetics in order to Prevent, Protect, Preserve the diabetic foot. It’s the peak pressures in the diabetic foot that lead to the skin breaking down and where the risk of an ulcer is dramatically increased.
Why is all of this important?
Understanding that at some point in your life you will most likely experience a foot problem. When that moment arrives responding proactively can make a huge difference to your quality of life and even life expectancy. That probably sounds a bit far-fetched but the longer a person can stay mobile and active the more likely that person will remain healthier as they grow older. Mobility is key to longevity and the correct orthotic can help achieve that. The State of Aging and Health in America 2013 a study supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, provides a snapshot of our nation’s progress in promoting prevention, improving the health and well-being of older adults, and reducing behaviors that contribute to premature death and disability. In addition, the report highlights mobility (referring to movement in all of its forms) and how optimal mobility is fundamental to healthy aging.
It’s tough to argue with the CDC.
The personal views and ideas of Stephen O'Hare, President of Pedors Shoes in no way reflect the views of the Pedors Shoe Company, the staff, friends or family members - especially his family members.