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Sep 15

Written by: Cherri Choate, DPM

     The transition from residency to practice can be daunting.  One area which can be especially challenging is orthotic and brace prescription writing. As a consultant at Prolab, every summer I field a number of calls from new practitioners who have had little recent experience with orthotics and braces.  As an educator, this lack of exposure to "biomechanics" during "surgical" residency is disturbing.  While biomechanical principles should be an integrated component of surgical decision making, too often these principles and applications are not carved out during patient case discussions.  In addition, many of the post-op decisions seem to be underemphasized, and this is where the critical thinking of mechanical intervention is vital. 
     As residents and new practitioners, it may be helpful to seek out continuing education programs that have tracts focusing on biomechanics, pathomechanics, sports medicine and rehabilitation. New practitioners often feel a sudden and unexpected sense of responsibility for an overwhelming number of decisions.
     To the new practitioners:
            As you begin to tackle orthotic and brace prescription writing again, call your lab of choice and discuss their options and in-house production processes.  I would also recommend that you practice orthotic/brace casting a few times prior to casting your first patients.  The education which you received many years ago will be recalled quite quickly, and your skills will improve rapidly with repetition.  As each biomechanical challenge presents itself, look back at old notes, discuss issues with colleages and use PubMed to become current on new research findings.  Although residency experiences can often feel compartmental in nature, the practice of podiatry truly is a balanced blend of medicine, surgery and biomechanics.  As a practitioner, it is your responsibility to seek out opportunities that assist you in maintaining that "balanced" practice life that leads to effective patient care.


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