While doing background research for this blog, I originally intended to focus on the reasons why topics relating to biomechanics have vanished from presentations at major podiatric conferences around the country. I wanted to review the lecture schedules from last year as well as upcoming meetings in 2012 to make sure that I was correct regarding the dearth of biomechanics lectures.
I was startled with what I found and it opened my eyes to what appears to be a growing trend at our scientific meetings. Practice management and marketing subjects have taken the place of sessions relating to podiatric biomechanics and conservative treatment of lower extremity conditions.
Are national podiatric seminars lacking in surgical, medical and research material for presentations so much that they need to add tracks for the business side of medicine? I have nothing against picking up practice management pearls. However, pre-conference sessions that will not interfere with more meaningful scientific tracks seem to be the best setting for coding, marketing and business strategies.
I may be wrong but I am confident that my fellow practitioners would far prefer attending lectures that directly relate to their clinical practice. They are interested in research using outcomes measures to compare both operative and non-operative interventions for the treatment of lower extremity pathologies. While there has been an explosion of knowledge in the field of lower extremity biomechanics over the past 15 years, few of my colleagues will have a chance to benefit from this movement. They will not be able to improve their own treatment protocols when it comes to non-operative interventions.
Furthermore, insights in biomechanics research have significantly affected surgical decision-making yet most premier surgical meetings offer no sessions devoted to this subject matter. The notable exceptions include the Podiatry Institute seminars and the Western Foot and Ankle Conference. Both of these organizations have featured credible credentialed speakers who present outstanding sessions devoted to updated research in podiatric biomechanics.
I have noticed that several meetings have so-called “biomechanics” sessions or workshops on their agenda. However, further scrutiny reveals that vendors or commercial entities stage these tracks and clearly promote a certain line of orthotic products. The education of our profession needs a panel of credentialed speakers who have published peer-reviewed research or hold faculty positions at respected academic institutions and can present credibly founded scientific information. Surprisingly, physical therapy and athletic training disciplines present the best researchers in lower extremity biomechanics. With a few exceptions, most large podiatric meetings do not include the proper faculty to teach modern lower extremity biomechanics.
Today, we have new scientific evidence that has re-directed our treatment of patellofemoral pain syndrome, Achilles tendinopathy, adult-acquired flatfoot and plantar heel pain syndrome. These new treatment regimens combine modification of foot orthotic therapy protocols, integration of functional rehabilitation programs and footwear modification.
When will we see this information presented at national meetings? Why are practice management topics now in the spotlight? What is our profession seeking when we register to attend a conference dedicated to continuing medical education?
I look forward to hearing from my colleagues who may wish to respond to these questions.