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Forensic Podiatry

Forensic Podiatry is the use of podiatry-based knowledge in the identification of human beings, usually in criminal or disaster-type investigations. Examples of work in this field include identification from gait patterns captured on CCTV (forensic gait analysis), from worn footwear (including feet in shoe analysis), from bare footprints and from the records made by podiatrists during the course of their treatment..

The service pioneered the practice of forensic podiatry in the UK and members of the service have undertaken and published research on the forensic use of shoe wear patterns, the reliability of bare footprint measurement approaches, stature estimation from bare footprints, identification from podiatry records and on the parameters within which forensic gait analysis can take place in the assessment of CCTV images. The Head of Service jointly authored the first published textbook on forensic podiatry and has produced a number of other publications in the specialty. Members of the service have also played a key role in various items of work considering role definitions, (including education and training recommendations), standards and competency testing in forensic podiatry

Cases can be referred to the Head of Service, Jeremy Walker at the service offices (see Contact us), by letter, e-mail or fax, in confidence. On the submission of case material, an initial opinion will be made as to whether the service is able to assist in the given situation. Within the service, there are currently six forensic podiatry specialists who are able to assist in forensic podiatry cases covering all areas of practice, four of which have completed the Forensic Science Society Certificate of Competency testing.


The Healthy Footwear Guide

Footwear can be unhealthy. Research shows that shoes can have a profound effect on the human foot, and where they are not entirely suitable for the wearer, problems may arise.

Ill-fitting or inappropriate shoes may cause considerable discomfort, blisters, corns or callus. They can even lead to serious problems, such as ulceration or gangrene in people with diabetes or other medical conditions which may place the foot at risk.

Guidelines have been produced to help the public to recognise healthy shoes. Foot health experts and the footwear industry have now come together to produce a simple guide.

For many years, health professionals and shoe fitters have provided basic advice to patients and customers about how to buy footwear sensibly, in order to maintain the foot in a healthy condition. However, until now, no formal process has sought to harness the collective views of expert professionals from both clinical specialties and the footwear manufacturing industry. In 2007, this was undertaken as part of a consensus exercise involving a specially convened expert group. This work which led to the publication of a paper identifying the key features of a ‘healthy’ shoe. 11 different points were agreed as necessary attributes of a shoe in order for it to be considered “healthy”.

These points are as follows:

  • Toe box allows normal foot function
  • Adequate width and depth for foot function
  • Sole encourages normal foot function
  • Soft flexible upper and lining
  • Stable heel of approximately 25mm
  • In shoe climate which promotes a healthy environment within the shoe
  • Shoe provides reasonable cosseting
  • Shoe retains its’ fitness for purpose
  • Shoe must offer good foot retention
  • Availability of product advice
  • Outsole grip meets industry standards

A scheme is in operation to translate these guidelines into reality. Following this work, a group has been developed to actively translate the findings into practice, in the form of a “Healthy Footwear Guidelines” scheme.

This scheme offers guidelines for the recognition of ‘healthy’ footwear. Shoe manufacturers are able to sign up to the scheme and to nominate products that they feel meet the guidelines. These nominated products, once agreed, are allocated a symbol of recognition, which the public will can identify when seeking to purchase healthy footwear.

Raising awareness is the aim. The scheme is intended to help raise awareness of the value of healthy footwear and to enable customers to make better informed choices when purchasing footwear.

The aim is to reduce the number of footwear-related foot problems. Healthy and appropriate footwear clearly contributes to a healthy lifestyle, which in turn enhances well-being. Ensuring customers are better able to make well-informed decisions about their choice of footwear is a step in the right direction.

The group works with others to develop the scheme further for healthier feet and healthier lives. The work has been supported and endorsed by several professional and trade bodies with an interest in footwear and foot health and the organisation publishes a list of participating footwear manufacturers on its' web site.
 

 

Further information

Further information about the scheme can be obtained from www.healthy-footwear-guide.com

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