By Kate Horowitz
The first podiatric teaching facility in Australia was opened at The University of Western Australia (UWA). The Podiatric Surgery Clinic will encourage clinical research in podiatric surgery, offer reduced fees for elective foot surgery patients and provide training for postgraduate students.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor, Alan Robson, said podiatrists play an important role in the health care system, particularly in treating patients with lower limb complications of diabetes, renal disease or peripheral vascular disease – all common ailments experienced amongst the elderly community.
“Podiatric Medicine is taught within UWA’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. It is unique in that it is the only podiatry course in Australia taught within a faculty of medicine,” Mr Robson said.
“Although our students undertake important clinical placements in our public teaching hospitals, community clinics and clinics with private practitioners, this new facility will allow them to receive advanced clinical and surgical training, which is not available to them within the public teaching hospital system”.
In the article ‘A step in the right direction’ published online in the Australian Ageing Agenda, a study by La Trobe University discovered that they could reduce an older person’s risk of falling by more than 35 per cent using a multifaceted podiatry intervention. Podiatrist’s involvement in falls shows the increasing importance of podiatry in aged care.
Professor Alan Bryant, Academic Coordinator of podiatric medicine at UWA and Clinical Director of the new UWA Podiatric Surgery Clinic believes the centre will benefit the ageing community.
“Podiatrists are important providers of health care services and this is no more important than in helping elderly patients remain healthy and mobile. Many disabling and painful foot problems can be addressed by performing relatively straight-forward surgical procedures under local anaesthesia on an out-patient basis. In this way, the need for hospitalisation can often be eliminated and the cost markedly reduced,” Mr Bryant said.
“Foot problems are common in the elderly population. Podiatrists are extremely important to help manage often very painful and restricting foot conditions, often the result of an existing foot deformity and the aging process or of chronic health problems affecting the lower limbs, such as diabetes or poor circulation. Podiatrists work collaboratively with medical practitioners and often on the referral of a patient’s GP.”