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OSU-Okmulgee Center Gets Pedorthics Program on Its Feet

Jim Killackey Published: April 26, 1998

OKMULGEE - Oh, my aching feet!

That refrain is repeated by Oklahomans every day.

Helping to address the problem of sore and aching feet is a program offered at Oklahoma State University's Technical Branch in Okmulgee.

OSU-Okmulgee is emerging as a national leader in Pedorthics Footwear Technology.

From bunions to calluses to ingrown toenails to congenital deformities, disease, overuse, and injury cause a variety of foot problems.

Pedorthists design, manufacture, modify and fit footwear, including footwear inserts, to alleviate those problems.

Pedorthics is a $15 billion-a-year business in the United States.

Sponsoring a range of educational opportunities for beginning, intermediate and advanced pedorthic professionals has positioned OSU-Okmulgee as a national leader in pedorthic education.

The school's program has grown from offering an evening class program to precertification courses, to continuing education courses, and now a degree program in pedorthic footwear technology, said Jerry Wilson, head of OSU-Okmulgee's small business occupations department.

Each semester, OSU-Okmulgee's program attracts students from more than 30 states and from countries including Canada, Japan and China.

This 120-clock-hour program qualifies students to participate in a certification test sponsored by the Board for Certification in Pedorthics. Those who pass are recognized as certified pedorthists, qualified to interpret and implement a physician's prescription for footwear.

More and more people are suffering from foot problems from illfitting shoes.

"I came here because of my retail shoe store. This program has given me a new reason for being in business," student Ralph Baker of Salisbury, N.C., said.

"With the knowledge and skills that I have acquired here at OSU-Okmulgee, I can return to my business knowing I can help people who have special foot problems," Baker said.

Diabetics often have severe foot problems. With the proper care, Wilson said, as many as 70 percent of all foot amputations could be prevented in diabetics.

"Foot care for diabetic patients is the reason I came to OSU-Okmulgee. My goal is to learn how to significantly lower disabling diabetic foot problems and minimize the chance of amputations that are so traumatic to patients," said Lita Scott, a registered nurse who works with an Indian Health Care Service Unit on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona.

OSU-Okmulgee's pedorthic program is aimed at people in a variety of occupations: physical therapists, podiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses, shoe repair technicians and sports medicine personnel.

As Wilson explained, foot injuries are among the most common sports injuries, partly because the foot has so many components: 26 bones and dozens of joints, tendons and muscles.

Pedorthics can help injured athletes during treatment and rehabilitation, allowing them to return to their sport.

Rick Fahnhorst, a prosthetic assistant from St. Cloud, Minn., said he came to OSU-Okmulgee to learn how to make accommodative shoes for his patients.

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