Integrating Podiatry With Complementary Therapies

Podiatrists are a key component of a multidisciplinary team that provides holistic care for people with DFUs. However, barriers to changing professional practice can inhibit this collaboration.

For example, some podiatrists report a concern that the use of health care assistants could blur roles and challenge their sense of professional identity. This has a negative impact on the willingness to adopt change.

Stress Management

Podiatrist based in Sunshine Coast can help you develop a stress-management program, which includes exercise, relaxation techniques and proper nutrition. This can help you manage the symptoms of your foot condition and avoid future injuries.

Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are a serious complication of diabetes that can have significant impact on quality of life and increased healthcare costs. A multidisciplinary approach is considered important in the management of diabetic foot problems, especially in order to reduce hospital admissions and amputation rates.

Research shows that patients with DFUs treated by an MDT including a podiatrist can have improved outcomes, such as wound healing rate and duration. However, in many health systems the podiatrist is a limited resource in terms of accessibility and scope of practice. Therefore, there is a need to investigate whether and to what extent contact with podiatrists in an MDT context makes a difference for diabetic foot outcomes.

Skepticism and resistance to change by some podiatrists is due to a concern that health care assistant roles may blur role boundaries, threaten professional identity, and lead to boundary encroachment – which could have implications for teamwork and quality of patient care [90]. However, more participative and multifaceted educational approaches appear to be more successful in stimulating new ideas, developing teams and facilitating effective change processes with a patient focus.

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Physical Activity

Podiatrist at Caloundra has a unique opportunity to assess and promote physical activity as part of their routine clinical practice. This is a largely unexploited area of podiatry health promotion that could potentially play an important public health role. The aim of this research was to explore podiatrists’ attitudes, beliefs, social norms, confidence, barriers and perceived knowledge and skills regarding physical activity promotion.

Participants generally considered physical activity promotion to be an important part of their role. However, the majority of participants were only occasionally or rarely assessing and promoting physical activity to their patients. They were more often assessing and promoting this behaviour to patients with particular characteristics (eg diabetes), taking an opportunistic approach or when it was relevant to their presenting conditions. This contrasts with recommendations that this should be a regular component of clinical care.

The reasons for this inconsistent behaviour were complex and varied. Several of the identified barriers related to a lack of support and resources, whereas others were specific to the podiatry profession. This included the perception that podiatry managers did not have a good understanding of this area and were not well-placed to provide leadership and governance. Moreover, some podiatrists believed that they were already overburdened with clinical responsibilities. This was particularly the case for those working across community and hospital settings.

Diet

The importance of diet is a key aspect of podiatry care. A proper diet can help patients maintain a healthy weight and reduce foot problems [1].

Podiatrists are well positioned to educate patients on the importance of diet and lifestyle changes. In addition, they can refer patients to a dietitian for further evaluation of dietary and nutritional needs and advice.

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It is important that allied health professionals support patient involvement in their own care. Patient and carer participation is associated with better outcomes and a greater sense of self-management. It is therefore essential that podiatrists encourage and facilitate this patient-centred approach in their practice.

The majority of university based podiatric medicine programs are housed within the context of a multidisciplinary education environment. This allows podiatrists to interact with students from other disciplines, fostering integration and understanding about their unique specialty. However, this interaction also creates tensions between professional cultures, which can influence behaviour and responses to change.

The allied health professions have varying views on the role of evidence in their practice. Many cite professional attitude, lack of time and access to literature as barriers to the implementation of evidence-based practices in their everyday clinical practice. Others find that the evidence base can be difficult to understand and believe that it is not relevant to their everyday clinical practice.

Sleep

For patients with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, sleep problems and even diabetes, complementary therapies can be the key to long-term management. This holistic approach places more emphasis on the individual biology of a patient, which can benefit them in multiple ways — including by improving sleep patterns.

Health treatments that are not considered conventional Western medicine are referred to as alternative or complementary medicine, and they can range from exercise and dietary changes to herbal remedies and massage therapy. For example, a podiatrist can help an individual develop an exercise program that incorporates breathing exercises, or recommend a dietary supplement or acupuncture session to improve their sleep.

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A podiatrist can also play a key role in identifying the best CAM therapies for an individual, and ensuring that they are used appropriately. This may involve working with other healthcare professionals such as physical therapists or nutritionists to create a customized treatment plan that will be most effective for the individual.

The LECOM School of Podiatric Medicine teaches students to take a holistic approach to their patients’ feet and lower legs, combining traditional lectures and labs with small-group discussions, case-based learning and interprofessional collaboration with osteopathic medical students. As part of this, students learn about a variety of complementary and alternative medicines that can be utilized in the practice of podiatry.