Maximizing Orthotic Success With Basketball Players

By Patrick A. DeHeer, DPM
It is important to educate the team’s other medical staff on the correct technique of measuring equinus deformity (i.e. locking of the midtarsal joint to gauge ankle joint dorsiflexion accurately with the knee extended and flexed). Team medical personnel routinely stretch elite players. Therefore, in order to achieve adequate equinus reduction, utilizing a night splint becomes practically essential. Compliance is very difficult for several reasons. Elite basketball players travel quite a bit and may forget to bring their night splint with them on a road trip. This is where the help of the trainer, who also travels with the team, becomes crucial. The trainer often carries things such as extra pairs of orthoses, shoes, etc., with him or her and it should be very little trouble to add a night splint. Trainers also have the ability to monitor the player’s use of the night splint while on the road. In Conclusion In summary, clinicians should first know the player’s biomechanics and pathology. Then find an orthotic lab that the DPM, the players and the trainer are comfortable with using. This season, I requested a sample basketball device from several orthotic labs and actually went over each sample with the trainer. Semi-rigid devices with multiple layers of shock absorbing materials should be the goal in most cases. Use modifications as needed for each particular case. Send the shoes with the cast to the lab so the lab’s technicians can ground the devices to fit the shoe. Evaluate and adequately treat equinus deformity. Discuss an adequate break-in period with the player and the trainer. Maintain open lines of communication about the orthoses and the potential need for adjustments. All of these suggestions can potentially increase the overall success of preventative treatment and rehabilitation of the elite basketball player. Dr. DeHeer is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. He is also a team podiatrist for the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana Fever. Dr. DeHeer is in private practice with various offices in Indianapolis.


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