Foot Care for Children

  • By Judith Sullivan
  • 29 Mar, 2017
03 Dec 2015

Could it be time to take your child to a podiatrist?


Podiatrists can be of significant help to anyone experiencing discomfort or health issues in their feet or ankles. However, you may not have considered whether it’s time to book an appointment for your child.

By keeping an eye on the way your child walks as they develop, as well as paying close attention to any reports of pain or discomfort, you’ll be able to make the right decision for your child’s foot health.

Keep an eye on their gait

One of the most important aspects to look out for is your child’s gait. The term ‘gait’ is used to describe the way an individual walks, so it’s important to ensure your child is walking correctly from a young age to avoid long-term mobility issues.

While it’s expected that very young children who have only recently learnt to walk will have the awkward footing to begin with, this will often be rectified without treatment.

However, if your child’s gait is still showing signs of significant in-toeing or out-toeing, or if they are walking with a limp or even experiencing pain, it’s certainly a clear sign it’s time to take them to a professional.

Correcting your child’s walk

In some cases, your child may be a little older before you notice the way they walk is a problem. You may then think it’s too late to see a podiatrist or help them learn to walk correctly.

There’s no reason to worry – it’s never too late for an evaluation. If your child’s feet are still growing, it may be that their feet could be easily repositioned through the use of inserts. If successful, this will likely eliminate the need for surgery or reconstruction later on.

Sometimes, children have similar issues to adults

There are plenty of reasons adults may visit a podiatrist, and many of their conditions can be applicable for children too.

For example, if your child does a lot of sporting activities, a podiatrist will be able to advise on the best way to avoid aches or splints, in addition to recommending the ideal running child for your child’s feet.

It’s also important to listen to your child when they’re describing aches or pains. They may not be able to describe what’s going on in the way an adult could, so it’s worth getting the situation checked out to ensure it’s nothing too serious.

Verrucae

Children seem to be magnets for verrucae, whether it is through the swimming pool or sharing a shower with siblings.  Betafeet Podiatry sees many young people whose verrucae are not being resolved by over the counter treatments. Cryosurgery is the usual treatment option, although discussing any underlying health issues, such as challenges at school, sleeping poorly or other childhood stressors, may give way to other treatment options.

Final Thoughts

In all cases, a parent or guardian must accompany the child.

Don’t leave it too late for your child to have his or her feet attended to – they need to last a lifetime!
By Judith Sullivan 18 Jul, 2017
Andre was an associate podiatrist at Betafeet for five months.  His contributions to the practice were considerable.  Sadly we lost him to a higher professional and personal calling.

After a stellar educational background and career, Andre joined babylon Healthcare Services, UK based, with a view to helping them set up and deliver the first digital healthcare pilot services to the NHS.   Digital healthcare is a cluster of new and emerging applications and technologies that exploit digital, mobile and cloud platforms for treating and supporting patients. Digital Healthcare is being applied to a  wide range of social and health problems, ranging from monitoring patients in intensive care, general wards, in convalescence or at home – to helping doctors make better and more accurate diagnoses, improving drugs prescription and referral decisions for clinical treatment.

Rwanda then beckoned.

Since joining babylon Rwanda in April 2016, Andre has been instrumental in successfully setting up and launching Africa's fastest growing digital healthcare service.  According to Lindsey McConaghy, babylon's PR manager, 'Rwanda has a population of around 12 million but doctor numbers are in the hundreds. There’s an imbalance between supply and demand'.  

Digital Healthcare is not without its sceptics nor controversies - at what point do you let an app do the diagnosis?  Will GPs embrace technology in this way?

Here is Andre's report about his experiences in Rwanda:  

Rwanda is a small ambitious country known as the land of 1000 hills with a population around 12 million and a rapidly growing economy. It has rolling hills for as far as you can see, a rain forest, gorillas and volcanoes, making for quite the site to any visitor. However, it is also known for the 1994 genocide in which over 1 million people were killed in 100 days across the country.

This tragic event has led to some very big health issues, which the country still faces, but thanks to a range of donor funding and strong political leadership, the country is on its way to quickly becoming a middle-income country.

As countries shift from low incomes to middle income economies, health issues become complex, where the country can face a mix of communicable disease (ie. malaria, HIV, TB) and the introduction of non-communicable disease (ie. diabetes, high BP, cholesterol) with changes in lifestyles.

Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with podiatry?

Well, as clinicians we play a role in the overall wellbeing of every patient that walks through our door for treatment and we become advocates for a number public health issues. While our specialist area is focused on the foot and ankle, an understanding of the bodily systems is imperative for understanding the impacts on the lower limb. This allows us to transition from clinical practice to other work streams such as health policy, public health programmes, service management and research.

As a podiatrist with a public health background, the increase of diabetes and chronic conditions in developing nations has become of personal interest. In many of these countries, diabetes is poorly understood and without proper prevention and care, can lead to a large economic burdens on the healthcare system. In 2012, the UK alone spent a whopping £639 million on foot ulcers and £662 on lower limb amputations, so the prevention and monitoring of these conditions is of paramount importance in the developing world.

The quality of life for individuals with diabetes is also drastically affected if not controlled, impacting mobility, footwear and overall lifestyle. Additionally, chronic ulceration and limb amputation, creates an increases risk (approximately 80%) of mortality within the first 5 years post amputation.

How did all this lead me to Africa, I hear you say?

In April of 2016, I (sadly) departed from the Betafeet clinic to implement an mhealth project in Rwanda in partnership with the Ministry of Health. This project, allows patients across the country to speak with a doctor and receive a prescription via SMS through their mobile phone, reducing the travel time, wait time and expense of receiving care from one of the local physical hospitals. The system is also working on monitoring both communicable and non-communicable disease using artificial intelligence, engaging patients to take ownership of their health.

This could be a major milestone for a country with stretched resources. To put things into perspective, over 80% of the population lives in remote areas of the country and works in the ‘in-formal’ sector as subsistence farmers with an average income of 2-3 dollars per day, which is not very much. To receive care, a patient may travel over an hour to reach their nearest hospital where a doctor is present and then wait anywhere from a few hours to a few days to receive the care they need. However almost 80% of the population already has a mobile phone.

Appropriate access to clinical care is a large part of the prevention and management of many conditions and undertaking this project has been a great experience. As a clinician, I have had the opportunity to utilise my knowledge to develop operational pathways and input into the technology development to shape the way patients receive their care. 

'Footnote'

It is with this experience I now look to move on to my next adventure focusing on Aboriginals and the utilisation of technology in the prevention of major non communicable disease such as diabetes.

Final comment from Reggie Simpson and Betafeet Podiatry

 We wish Andre the very best in his future and thank him for this interesting blog account.  We look forward to his next blog focused on his work with the Aboriginal population.  

By Judith Sullivan 12 Jun, 2017
By Reggie Simpson
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