Podiatry students help athletes put feet first

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:35:00 BST
GCU fourth-year podiatry student Erin Johnston with an athlete.
GCU fourth-year podiatry student Erin Johnston with an athlete.

Podiatry students from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) volunteered at the Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games in Sheffield earlier this month.

Mandy Abbott, lecturer on the podiatry programme in the School of Health and Life Sciences, accompanied nine students and three qualified podiatrists at the event, the country’s largest multi-sports event for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Mandy said: “I am the Clinical Director for Special Olympics GB responsible for the Fit Feet Programme.

“I have volunteered with Special Olympics GB since 2005 and have been able to involve the students as a result.”

Tasked with carrying out foot-health screening for the athletes, they managed to screen 463 competitors over the four days.

Screenings comprised of a footwear check to ensure suitability and fit, a test of pressure measurements, a look for deformities and analysis of the athlete’s gait.

All the information was recorded and a prescription form and advice given to the athletes for when they returned home.

The Fit Feet Programme formed part of a wider Healthy Athletes Programme concentrating on the health of the athletes that saw screenings from dentists, opticians, audiologists and physiotherapists.

Mandy said: “It was an amazing experience where we were able to provide health promotion for nearly 500 athletes and their coaches and carers.

“Affording students the opportunity to work with this specialist population improves both their communication and clinical skills.

“We stayed in student accommodation at Sheffield University campus, where the athletes were based, allowing us to socialise as well as work with them.

“This gave the students an insight into the athletes’ abilities in daily living tasks and social behaviours.

“The students commented on the spectrum of disability from high-functioning athletes to those who required a lot of physical, functional and emotional support.”