During the screening, the children’s feet are checked for good nail care, fungal infections or warts, and correct alignment of the foot and ankle. Footwear appraisals are also performed.
It is important for children to learn about appropriate footwear to avoid biomechanical problems as they grow from wearing the wrong shoes, such as bunions. They also learn how to care for their feet, including how to correctly trim their toenails and avoid ingrowing toenails, as well as good foot hygiene routines to avoid infections such as verrucas and fungal infections. Fungal infections and verrucas are very common in hot outdoor climates such as Dubai, where children are active in swimming and other barefoot activities where infections can thrive and spread.
Foot health awareness is a neglected topic worldwide and Dubai Podiatry Centre is aiming to increase foot health awareness across the Emirates. The free foot health screening program for schools is expected to run through October-November 2013. Check-ups take place on school premises by the Clinic’s UK trained podiatrists and are brief and fun, with children taking home a report for their parents with their feedback and advice on what to do next if any issues have been identified.
Foot Health check-ups are for children of primary school age, although the Clinic’s Chief Podiatrist Michelle Champlin advises the first review to be done as children start school for the first time, generally aged 4-5 years old. Mrs Champlin advises "many biomechanical foot and ankle issues can be fully corrected before adulthood if caught early enough and treated for example with custom corrective prescription orthotics. This is why it is so vital to take your child for a routine foot health screen when they start school, as it can prevent problems and pain in adulthood."
Dubai Podiatry Centre is the Middle East’s only specialist clinic dedicated only to foot, ankle and leg health and is the only Clinic in the region to make genuine custom made orthotics in their in-house laboratory, instead of sending away to a factory for generic or customised ‘orthotics’ from a factory which are not made specifically for each patient and hence can be less effective, if at all.
Mrs Champlin cautions that "unfortunately we do occasionally see new patients coming to see us who are disappointed that their foot or ankle problem has not been addressed or corrected by an insole that is more of a comfort or non-prescription insole that does not change the alignment, that has been bought over a counter or from somewhere not specializing and qualified in podiatry. Our Podiatrists make our orthotics in our lab with their own hands, from a mold of the child’s feet and to their unique prescription. Each child’s feet are different and must be treated as such. This prescription will change over time as the child’s foot posture improves and changes, so we monitor the child closely and may progress and adjust the prescription until we are satisfied that treatment has been successful."
Mrs Champlin and her team of expert Podiatrists enjoy working with children as they tend to make excellent patients and wear excellent footwear. Mrs Champlin says that "children are a real joy to work with and no two days are the same. It is also such a rewarding field of podiatry as the improvements can be so relatively fast and bring such real, positive and long-lasting health benefit to the child."
Schools who have not already signed up to participate in the Program are advised to contact Dubai Podiatry Centre.