When it comes to using orthotics, precision is often extremely important to yielding best results. The goal of orthotics is not often just to provide cushioning in trouble areas, but correction as well. The closer we can align the structure of a foot to its ideal, the greater an impact it can have on relieving symptoms of pain and discomfort.
In other words: form follows function.
So when a situation calls for a custom pair of orthotics made to exact specifications, our practice is proud to provide a state-of-the-art method that both provides the right fit and builds it: The Fitstation!
3D Printing Comes to Custom Orthotics
You may have already heard of 3D printing. You might even know someone who has a 3D printer and loves making things with it; from custom figurines to parts for machines!
If this is all new to you, 3D printing is a process where the design of a 3D object is uploaded to a special printer. The printer, which contains the ability to extrude different types of materials, uses the design schematics to create the object—an existing, tangible, and often fully operational version!
The Fitstation is a 3D printer for making custom orthotics, powered by Go-4D technology. That means your orthotics are made right here in our office; not sent out to be made in a lab. And they’re made with a lattice design that can place special focus on specific segments of the product.
Of course, the ability to create something specific doesn’t matter that much if we don’t have the tools to make the right specific thing. Fortunately, we have that as well.
How We Fit Your Feet to a T
Remember that, in many cases, differences of just a few millimeters can make a significant difference when it comes to foot structure and motion. In certain situations, it pays to be as exact as possible when prescribing a custom orthotic—and then keep up with changes in the foot in the future.
Our 3D printer works with a specialized 3D scanner to ensure the best measurements, putting precision to power!
The technology really is something to behold, and includes a 3D foot scanner, cameras, and pressure plate. We wouldn’t be surprised if you said it had a slight “sci-fi” feel to it, but it’s all here-and-now stuff! Here’s how it works:
- You would first stand inside the scanner, on a glass platform.
- Once in a firm position, nine laser-guided cameras scan and capture the image of your foot up to the ankle. These cameras are at a variety of different angles, allowing for a full, 3-dimensional image of your foot.
- The scan is broken down into 10 specific regions. The data on each region, including elements such as length, width, and heights of structures such as the arch—is provided for our review. The technology is sensitive enough to easily detect minute differences that would likely take us a much closer inspection.
- During the scan, the pressure plate beneath the foot will gauge the force with which your foot is making contact with the floor in various areas. It measures not only intensity, but also flow of pressure from one place to another as you move. This does mean you may be asked to move through a full walking motion while on the plates.
- All of the above data is compiled into a report and suggested prescription for custom orthotics.
However, while this technology can do quite a lot, it can’t factor in personal elements that might alter the ultimate shape of the orthotic. We are referring to things like your job, what kinds of shoes you primarily wear, your level of athletic activity, and other matters. These can all help influence your overall needs, and we will—humanly—make adjustments to the prescription to consider these factors, if we need to.
The ultimate prescription is transferred to the 3D printer to produce your orthotics. There may still be some slight adjustments made for fit afterward, but the final product should be a fantastic fit for your needs!
The Right Treatment for Your Feet and Ankles
Super technology and years of experience are a great combo, but that doesn’t mean custom orthotics are the solution to every problem.
Different conditions have different foundations that need to be addressed. Even the same condition can have different or multiple sources at its root! The key is finding those causes and addressing them in the best way for each patient. This might mean custom-made orthotics, but it might also mean something else—either in addition to or in place of the treatment.
Do not wait to get the help you need for your foot and arch pain. The sooner you start on a solution, the sooner you can start to feel greater relief and mobility.
Are you ready to take the next step? Call Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists at (512) 328-8900 to schedule an appointment at either of our Austin offices.
If you prefer to make contact electronically, that is also perfectly fine. Please fill out our online contact form and a member of our staff will respond to you during normal office hours.