Foot orthoses·Measurement technology

Scaling with millimeter precision

Bodytronic ID:CAM

From Bauerfeind Life Magazin on 02.03.2023

In short Matthias Mlink, expert orthopedic shoemaker at Werner & Thiele in Dresden, has been using the digital Bodytronic ID:CAM system to make foot orthoses for two years. The process consisting of five steps allows for a precise, personalized product:

  • taking an electronic 2D scan of the soles of the feet as well as recording 3D data or pressure data
  • configuring the perfect fit in the web application
  • transferring the data digitally to Production in Zeulenroda
  • when the foot orthoses have arrived after a few days, precisely adapting them using the grinding machine after fitting
  • checking up after about a week of testing during everyday activities possibly reworking on the grinding machine before gluing on the final top coat

Customers at Werner & Thiele in Dresden/Germany appreciate the option to receive custom-milled orthoses. The Bodytronic ID:CAM web application combines specialist knowledge with digital precision.

I just feel better when I wear foot orthoses in my shoes,” says Cornelia N. – and that has been true for over 20 years. The expert retail clerk has hallux valgus as well as a mild high-arched foot, and after a long day at work standing, her feet often burn. Furthermore, she is out and about in nature with her dog every day, and then she appreciates the stability in her shoes. But today is the moment for something new: at Werner & Thiele orthopedic shoe medical retailer in Dresden, Cornelia N. is receiving her first milled foot orthoses. She watches with excitement how Matthias Mlink, expert orthopedic shoemaker, places the bright green insole into the shoe with experienced hand movements, having made minor adjustments using the grinding machine. It fits perfectly. “And it feels great,” says Cornelia N. with a beaming smile. She cheerily takes a few steps across the room. She had her feet measured just a few days earlier at the branch of the orthopedic shoe technology store. The company was established nearly 30 years ago and operates in Dresden’s new town area under the name “Wohlergehen”, which is a play on words meaning both well-being and walking well. For the uncomplicated digital process, a flatbed scanner was used to create a 2D scan of her feet. “There is also the option of creating a foam imprint, but that happens rarely these days,” Matthias Mlink explains. “But it’s mandatory when supplying diabetes products. And useful for other products, of course.”

In the Bodytronic ID:CAM web application, Matthias Mlink now models the milled orthoses based on the scanned data. His advantage: not only can he place the order at the push of a button and initiate production, but he also has all data, including the scan, stored in a centralized location for documentation purposes. 

Configuring the perfect fit in the web application

After having her feet scanned and examined, Cornelia N.’s first appointment was finished. For the expert orthopedic shoemaker on the other hand, the actual work starts after creating the 2D image. He saves the scan taken with the computer in the patient booth to his computer located in the quiet basement, where he imports the data to the Bodytronic ID:CAM web application. Then, the work begins. Every patient has his or her own file containing medical history, assessments and all relevant information – including the scan. “That’s a huge advantage compared to how it used to be,” explains Matthias Mlink, who also holds the degree of Bachelor Professional. “All the information is saved here. If a patient returns to request exactly the same foot orthoses again, I won’t have to search through loads of files and measurement sheets.” Using the web application, medical retailers send the data for milled orthoses straight to Bauerfeind’s Production Department in Zeulenroda, Thuringia. Before this step, they can choose from three configuration profiles: Basic, Advanced or Professional. Matthias Mlink has been working with the Professional profile for a while. He uses it to fully configure and model the foot orthoses by himself. The order is then sent straight to the Production Department.

Comprehensive consultation as part of the service offering

During the consultation, Matthias Mlink explains the structure of the orthoses and their effect to his customer. 

Cornelia N. will use the products for general prevention because she doesn’t feel pain. In these cases, the foot orthoses are intended to help preserve the arch structure and counteract early signs of fatigue, among other things. The expert orthopedic shoemaker therefore chose the standard, average three-layer material with medium density. It has cushioning, shock-absorbing and relieving properties. “For patients who are in pain, I generally use something a little softer. If the patient is a bit bigger, I use firmer or one-layer material,” Matthias Mlink explains. The idea is for the foot to be supported in its natural shape and not be over-corrected. If the insoles are used during exercise, they can provide additional cushioning and increased stabilization. That is why it is important to find out as much as possible about the patient’s everyday activities and common types of strain. “When the products are supplied for prevention, we particularly try to work out during the consultation what goals the patient has and which shoes the foot orthoses will primarily be used in,” Matthias Mlink emphasizes. Werner & Thiele supports young amateur athletes, for example, as well as competitive tennis players, but also elderly customers who are out and about by the Elbe river with their Nordic Walking poles or who go hiking in the Mittelgebirge mountains and simply need relief and support for their feet, just like Cornelia N. “But most patients visiting us actually have a prescription from their physician for a specific problem,” explains the foot expert. Werner & Thiele operates five branches in Dresden: every branch has its own workshop and a dedicated employee who is qualified to use the Bodytronic ID:CAM web application. Patients span all age ranges and requirements. From children with foot misalignments to elderly pain patients, some of whom have become loyal regulars. The foot orthoses made using the Bodytronic ID:CAM, which Matthias Mlink considers a premium product, make up about a quarter of their overall orthotics business. He is convinced of the advantages: “It allows us to get much closer to the patient and specifically adapt the product to their needs.”

To Production in Zeulenroda at the push of a button

For the modeling process, he takes the time needed to meet this objective. The individual characteristics of each foot are scaled with millimeter precision. Do they have joint pain a heel spur or a high-arched foot? These and all other features are adjusted in the layout on the computer. Then, the order is saved and sent straight to Bauerfeind at the push of a button. Training at the ­Bauerfeind Academy on how to use the free web application generally takes a day and a half. Alternatively, field sales staff can provide an induction and help with questions later. Contact partners located in Zeulenroda are also available by phone. Any updates are performed digitally in the background.

As the regional capital of Saxony, Dresden may not be that far away from Zeulenroda, but Matthias Mlink is still always impressed by the speedy delivery of the custom-made foot orthoses: “If I place an order by 3 p.m., the delivery service will often arrive with the goods during the following morning. That’s a huge advantage, especially for patients in pain or during vacation time.” 

Quick service on the one hand, sufficient time for questions, measuring, modeling and fitting on the other hand: that is what makes the difference with these custom-milled orthoses. 

Milled to fit perfectly and adjusted by Matthias Mlink, the new foot orthoses provide prophylactic support during many hours of standing at work. During leisure time, they ensure excellent stabilization in shoes.

In addition to the consultation, Matthias Mlink needs about one hour for preparing the foot orthoses using the Bodytronic ID:CAM. “We make a conscious decision to offer comprehensive advice,” explains the expert from Dresden. 

“We make a conscious decision to offer comprehensive advice. In this way, we make sure the product doesn’t end up in some drawer, but patients will wear it.”

Matthias Mlink

“In this way, we make sure the product doesn’t end up in some drawer, but patients will wear it.” That definitely also applies to Cornelia N., who has now taken a few laps of the store with her new foot orthoses. There is no need for further grinding. But she has a week to test the insoles during everyday activities, before she will return for a follow-up appointment. “During the second appointment, we’ll have a close look at how the patient got on with the product,” Matthias Mlink explains. If needed, he will take the foot orthoses for readjustment back to the basement, where his big grinding machine is located. This is when the final top cover will be applied. It is designed to protect the foot orthoses until the next set is ordered. When this may be depends on different factors – for example, whether the foot orthoses have been prescribed by a physician and the costs are borne by the health insurance company, which can be done twice a year. At Werner & Thiele, it is part of the service to remeasure the feet every time, even though once a year would be enough for adults. “But it’s safer this way,” the expert orthopedic shoemaker believes. “And growing children have to be measured every time anyway.” For them, it is important to stimulate the muscles and improve gait. The feet will have matured during the early or mid 20s, but the arches can still decrease a little from the mid 30s depending on strain, due to the wrong type of shoes or if the person has to stand a lot. People’s feet sometimes change over the course of their lives because of congenital conditions. And later on, thinner skin and receding soft tissue are additional factors. It is a complex process that merits pro-active monitoring and support. 

Customers are thrilled by the combination of the in-depth consultation provided by Matthias Mlink and digital precision with the Bodytronic ID:CAM. Among them, the professor working in the city archives whose fitness tracker records 20,000 steps per day. “His feet started hurting from 10,000 steps onwards,” recalls Matthias Mlink. “Since using the Core X version, everything has been great. For this orthosis, the milled cushion layer is combined with the weightflex core. This morning, he placed an order for a second pair of insoles to exercise with.” Another example is the old lady who recently praised him with these words: “Mr. Mlink, you have golden hands!,” he remembers and adds with a smile: “But all I did was model some foot orthoses.”

The ErgoPad ID:Sandal – wearing comfort in the summer 

Sandals with a personal touch: the medical supply retailer will assemble the individually adjusted soles on the foot to ensure they fit perfectly. 

“The sandals arrived just at the right time,” ­Matthias Mlink, expert orthopedic shoemaker says. “Last summer, among other things, I built them for a young girl who was traveling, as well as for an elderly lady who doesn’t want to give up her orthopedic footbed at the height of summer.” The orthotist will assemble the individual parts and turn them into the finished sandal. He will, for example, determine the right position of the strap on the customer’s foot, thus ensuring a secure fit of the sandal, while the correct positioning of the thong prevents uncomfortable rubbing.

Images: Bauerfeind, Thomas Lebie

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