Why should children's orthotics be different?
Children develop an arch at about age 3. At that time their body weight increases, they become more active and the arch develops as a natural shock absorber against the flat, hard ground surfaces.
It can be common for a child to show or develop a foot and ankle issues either through family inheritance or as a pre-disposition of muscle or bone weakness caused by other dis-ease processes.
The parent may first notice these imbalances or the child may complain of discomfort when playing sports or during other activities.
Treating a child's foot problem as early as possible (age 3-4) can help correct foot issues and encourage strong, healthy foot structure in later life. A child's foot problem requires specialist assessment, customised treatment, progressive adjustments and ongoing monitoring.
Stewart Levy has been treating children’s foot problems for four decades. He makes corrective orthotic devices from materials that are fully adjustable over a long period making them cost effective and able to fit into all sensible shaped shoes.
Conditions Children's Orthotics help treat
Over Pronation / Supination
These commonly seen conditions in children are often inherited from parents or grandparents. They are also seen in Autism and other childhood conditions.
If left untreated they will affect the whole body alignment and create problems in knees, hips and even neck and shoulder.
A customised orthotic helps to realign the foot and ankle, encourage formation of strong muscles and bones and decrease foot issues in later life.
The function of the foot arch is to act as the body's shock absorber against hard, flat surfaces a child will live and play on.
Without this protection, their bones and muscles will take on intense pressures causing strain and often damage.
Flat feet can be inherited or as a result of over pronation, a foot deformity or from over strained muscles. If left untreated in a child can go on to cause problems in later life.
Leg Length Discrepancy - LLD
LLD can be an emotional issue for a child as well as uncomfortable.
It will shorten muscles of the lower leg and change bones alignment which can further affect play time or sports.
it can also cause pain in the lower back, hips, the shoulders and neck.
LLD can be treated with a customised orthotic inside a shoe making it more cost effective and less obvious when done as an external build-up.
Our 20 Year Case Study
In 1995, a parent brought their child to our Pedorthic Foot Clinic who was developing a case of pes planus (flat foot). The patient was 3 years, 4 months of age when assessed and the parents were concerned that the child could have difficulties in their growing years if untreated. Upon examination of the child’s gait, the symptoms were genu valgus (knocked knees) with very flat arches. Pedographs were taken but, due to age, treatment did not commence immediately. It was recommended that the child be re-assessed in a further 6-8 months.
Approximately 8 months later, assessment showed that the growth pattern was not improving so treatment utilising custom made foot orthoses was conducted. The patient’s treatment was monitored regularly and they revisited for assessments and adjustments in 1999, 2005, 2007, 2008, and concluding in 2013.
After the 18 years of wearing the adjustable, semi-flexible orthotic devices, the patient reported his knees, feet and ankles were aligned when walking and he felt it was not necessary to wear the orthotics any further. The foot assessment in 2013 showed strong arch formation and ankle and foot alignment.
Treating a child at an early age with an orthotic device has been a topic of discussion with practitioners who are of the view that the child will naturally grow the arch and develop alignment over time. However having treated several hundred children I have found this is not the case. Genetics plays a big part in a child’s foot issues and the predisposition, if left untreated, can leave the child with increased problems as a teenager and through adulthood.