A Tale of Horseshoes, Podiatrists and Grey’s Anatomy

If you’ve read this far, I’m sure you’re wondering what the three featured topics of this posting have in common with each other. Don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging for too long.The 3D printer on Grey's Anatomy: could orthotics be its next job?

First of all, Grey’s Anatomy: Fans of the show will know that in the current season, the eponymous Dr. Grey has embarked on a medical trial involving a three dimensional (3D) printer.

Now, horseshoes: researchers in Australia have used a 3D printer to create a special type of horseshoe. Working with horse podiatrists (there’s the third part of the title), researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) customized and printed a horse shoe designed to fight an equine foot disease that cause the hoof to have extra curvature. They’re calling their finished product a ‘horse-thotic’ (that’s horse orthotic).

As a Houston podiatrist, I find this new development in 3D print technology very exciting. I already create custom orthotics for my clients, using the inserts to help your feet work as efficiently as possible, making the rest of your body more stable. Right now, I make the orthotics from a mold I take of your foot when it’s in a ‘neutral’ position; once that mold is made, I modify the orthotic to create a shape that will counteract the unique problems created by your own biomechanics.

As well as this process works, I can totally envision a time where a computer scans every angle of your feet, processes the information and sends it on to the 3D printer from which the finished product will emerge. Currently, it takes about two to four hours for a 3D printer to produce a project, but I’m sure that time will speed up as technology improves.

At Tanglewood Foot Specialists, I strive to give my patients the best quality of care with the most up-to-date treatment options. If you want the best for your feet, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider for a comprehensive foot evaluation.

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