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Going green’s also good for the sole

July 31, 2009

Ever make something out of papier-mâché?  It’s a long, messy, wasteful process, with strips of paper, water and glue all over the place.  And if you mess up, you have to start all over.

A doctor makes a mold for an orthotic by using plaster - lots of it

A doctor makes a mold for an orthotic by using plaster - lots of it

A similar process has been used in the making of orthotics for years.  But doctors at Temple University are doing their part to put their best (green) foot forward– they’ve started using a machine that scans the foot, making a 3-D map of the foot that will be used to make a custom orthotic.

 “Orthotics labs produce tons of waste from plaster of Paris molds every year,” said Howard Palamarchuk, professor of medicine at the podiatry school.  “This way creates less waste than trying to make a plaster mold.”

Docs at Temple podiatry are using scanners to create orthotics, to help cut down waste and wait time for the patient

Docs at Temple podiatry are using scanners to create orthotics, to help cut down waste and wait time for the patient

 He says that in addition to cutting down on waste, the scan helps create a more accurate orthotic for patients, and also cuts down on their time at the doctors office and their wait time to receive them.

 “It takes 10 seconds to make a scan of the foot, versus 20-30 minutes to make a plaster mold, then wait for it to dry, then ship it off to the lab to have it made,” he said.

Dr. Palamarchuk presented information on his experience with the scanner today at this year’s annual meeting of the American Podiatric MedicalAssociation.

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