I've been doing a lot of traveling lately. Recently in an airport I was doing some people watching and a familiar sound was in the air...a dot matrix printer. Holy Mackerel! I haven't seen one of these in ages! I'm sure they're not new to the airport...just never had the chance to notice them.

Why are airports continuing to use this antiquated technology? My guess is upkeep is low, they're reliable and quick, and their replacement parts are less expensive than the toner and ink of today's printers. Technology may have changed in all areas of aviation, but for the average gate desk agent's needs, the dot matrix printer works just fine. Of course our home needs are different.

I saw a patient this week that had custom foot orthotic devices made by my predecessor in my Houston podiatry office, meaning they were made over ten years ago. Old orthotics, old technology, but they were tried and true to this patient and saw no reason to get them checked or changed in the past decade. It wasn't until he had some symptoms of foot pain that he thought about coming in. In truth, the lifespan of the typical custom orthotic is three to five years. This is because the foot is dynamic and will show changes in mechanics, even structure, after a short period of time.

As a Houston podiatrist and foot surgeon, I regularly evaluate patients for custom orthotic devices. I perform a series of measurements from the low back to the feet, perform a visual and digital gait analysis, and take a mold of the foot in the most efficient and stable position. This allows me to identify and capture significant changes in the structure and mechanics of the foot, ankle, and lower extremity.

Even if you feel that your current custom orthotic is serving you well, it's worth a visit to your podiatrist to see if they can be doing even better for you. It may well be time to upgrade your own dot-matrix printer.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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