by Bob Longworth MSc DPodM

This weekend Bob caught up with Podiatry Surgeon Mark Price for a long overdue get together. Mark and his son Tom are involved in a project to measure the stiffness of tissues under the foot at the Centre for Clinical Biomechanics and Rehabiliation Technologies at Staffordshire University

Many years ago, Mark designed a standing platform that could put the foot unto different weightbearing positions and Tom (a computer and engineering whizz) updated it by making the individual parts move electronically. Tom has now designed a way of fitting an ultrasound probe to the heel area so it is flush with the platform and a scan of the heel can be undertaken whilst weightbearing. The position of various parts of the foot can then be altered by a computer to see there is any effect on the plantar tissue stiffness.

This has implications for patients with diabetes who’s tissues differ mechanically from those without the disorder and their stiffness might hold some understanding into why they are prone to ulceration.

This ultrasound machine has the ability to tell the stiffness of tissues via ‘Elastography’ – measuring how fast the ultrasound waves move through them (the denser the tissue the faster they go). Friday afternoon saw Roozbeh Naemi ( Professor of Biomechanics) demonstrating and helping us play around with different ways of doing things and finding out what needs to be tweaked (there’s always a lot of tweaking).

Working at the University gives you these ‘behind the scenes’ opportunities that excite nerds like me. Roozbeh and Panos Chatzistergos have previously published about it Read about it here

This is my left foot….

Saturday saw 12 of us at a training day which Mark had arranged. The morning covered basic life support and use of defibrillators with Dave Coppin who is a hospital lead resuscitation officer and knows his onions. Mark took the afternoon which was an update for use of local anaesthetics (he’s performed over 50,000 injections) and nail surgery (the College of Podiatry requires us to do a 3-yearly update on this). There were lots of scenarios given out where we discussed the pros and cons of operating on people with different issues, how different types of anaesthetics could have different reactions and how to work out the maximum safe dose for different patients (it depends on their weight and which LA you use). The day was very relaxed and all the delegates got a lot out of it. Private practitioners don’t often get the chance to meet up so there was lots of chatting about all sorts of issues between lectures.

Thanks for an informative weekend Mark! (and the curry and the beer….)

by Bob Longworth MSc DPodM