Making Strides with Orthotics

Making Strides with Orthotics


A unique insight into orthotics and the latest digital developments in 3D scanning was provided at the recent Brainwaves session by Conor McDaid from Great Gait who presented on ‘Making Strides in Orthotic Decision-Making’.

Great Gait specialise in providing all types of orthotics including insoles, orthopaedic shoes and adaptations, ankle foot orthoses, knee ankle foot orthoses, functional electrical stimulation and spinal bracing.

Raising awareness of orthotics

Invited by Brainwaves hosts, Physio Matters and Active Case Management to lead the session on Thursday 29th August, Lead Orthotist Conor explained his experience working for both the NHS and in the private sector. He specialises in traumatic brain injury (TBI) and neurology, working alongside physiotherapists and case managers to help clients.

Conor began his presentation by discussing current issues in orthotics. These include overstretched services, limited onsite facilities, long waiting times, and historical perceptions of orthotists as ‘only fitting insoles’ or having no technical skill. There is also a shortage of qualified orthotists with only 950 working in the UK.

More positively, Conor highlighted three key aspects needed to provide an orthotic clinical service which he is keen to raise awareness of – knowledge, innovation and pragmatism. “Orthotists need to constantly update their knowledge of treatment as well as technologies which will aid innovation,” explained Conor. “Pragmatism is one of the most important aspects of orthotics, as the client needs to be on board with the treatment you are giving, otherwise time and money is wasted.”

New digital equipment

To help clients be pragmatic, Conor uses a wide range of equipment within his orthotics service. This includes a gyroscope, which is used for gait analysis to collect data for a patient’s pelvic movements, in order to highlight any gait abnormalities. Sporting boots and shoes have also been developed to help clients who are passionate about getting back into sports activities, as well as low-profile spinal braces which clients can wear. More recent innovations include 3D printed orthotics which are designed to be strong, long-lasting and low profile for the client.

Thanks to volunteer Louise Sheffield from Active Case Management, Conor demonstrated how an orthotist would assess a client, and what he would look for in terms of gait abnormality. He then showcased a portable, digital scanner which can be set up easily within the home to assess a client’s gait in more detail to see how the body balances.

Louise stepped on and off the scanner, which then created a 3D scan of her foot. Conor could then examine this scan to determine which parts of the foot needed assisting, and then create a 3D print of an insole. This scan could also be developed into a report and sent to case managers, and used to monitor whether the client’s gait had improved over time.

foot 3D image
Louise concluded her volunteering duties by placing her foot into a Podotech foot impression which made an imprint of her foot. This is a more traditional mould-making technique which can also be used to create an insole.


Fun fact

Conor also explained that a larger version of the 3D digital scanner is used by Manchester United Football Club to examine players’ gait and prevent serious foot injuries, as well as the British Army who use it to assess fatigue.

To find out more about Conor’s orthotic services and Great Gait, visit

Great Gait

About Brainwaves

Brainwaves was formed by Colin Green of Physio Matters Neurological Ltd and Louise Sheffield of Active Case Management Ltd to provide interdisciplinary training sessions for professionals working in brain injury rehabilitation. Sessions are free and held every 2 months at Hollinwood Business Centre in Oldham.

Open to therapists, case managers, social workers, support workers, lawyers and anyone working in the field of acquired brain injury, Brainwaves shares informal clinical training. This covers clinical topics such as HCPC audit process, insight after brain injury, serial casting, hydrotherapy, and many more.

The next free Brainwaves event is on 31st October with Liz Hughes, Director and Head of Court of Protection at Hugh Jones Solicitors. Liz will be covering the topic ‘The Role of the Court of Protection with Brain Injury’. The session will run from 11:00am – 12:30pm.

To find out more:

Twitter: @brainwavesNW

Physio Matters Oldham Manchester