Veerle D'Haese (° 1978) graduated as a podiatrist at the Artevelde Hogeschool in Ghent (Belgium) in 2000. After her studies, she immediately started her own practice. Because she plays sports very often and very intensively it’s only natural that she became a very reputable sports podiatrist. Veerle successfully participated in many IronMan triathlons and the medals she collected there were given a nice spot in the brand-new practice. "I am indeed deeply rooted in the world of sports. This has been part of the reason why I started focussing on the biomechanical component of podiatric studies. Foot care and instrumental treatment completely disappeared into the background to me."
Veerle recently moved her practice to a very exceptional place: in Sint-Gillis near Dendermonde, next to Cinema Albert, one of those independent city movie theatres which are becoming increasingly rare. "The movie theatre is the life's work of my partner," says Veerle, "we live just around the corner. So ultimately it was much easier to move my practice here."
Veerle has been working with the footscan® system for over 10 years now. And she is very satisfied with it, and with the renewed footscan® v9 software that replaces the old v7. During her consultations Veerle will usually run through the footscan® analysis together with the patients and show which corrections are needed. Thanks to the footscan® her patients understand this as well. "The images from the footscan® are very clear, even for people who don't know anything about the biomechanics of their feet. In addition to the objectified data which I can use, it's an easy way to concisely provide the patient with the necessary information. On top of this I can easily print out a report for my patients. That's really a great added value of the system."
Since 2014 the footscan also comprises a module to design and order the Phits 3D printed insoles. In August 2016 Veerle also took this step and became a Phits Expert.
She's been using the system for over four months and she's already helped more than a hundred patients with this enitrely Belgian innovation. "I estimate that I am currently helping a quarter of patients with Phits insoles. For the rest of the patients I mainly work with lavigne insoles which I still make myself. To me, both types of soles are complementary; where I used to run into problems with other insoles I'm now able to provide a solution using the 3D printed insoles, for example when the material can be a bit harder and more resistant. Moreover, the wear resistance is much better than, say, EVA insoles." And technology doesn't only play a part in production: "For some patients, the technological aspect is what draws them to these insoles, they love that as a podiatrist I'm completely up to date with all the latest developments. You can quickly feel whether patients are open to this innovation. "
How does she determine which type of soles to provide to her patients? "At the beginning, I used to suggest both options, but actually this is not what people want. They want you to tell them what will be the best solution for them. Sometimes that's Phits, other times that's a more traditional solution. I always try to recommend the insoles which I think will be best. For this, I rely mainly on the type of problem, the patient's history and the main usage of the insole. The type of shoe is important. Soccer players for example, are often best helped with Phits due to the exceptionally good fit that is also very well suited for basketball players, volleyball or handball. The Phits insoles are also more resistant to humid conditions and they are more robust, really made to play soccer! That's also the reason why I tend to recommend Phits for professional footwear. For cyclists, I almost routinely suggest the Phits, as they simply offer more possibilities to arrive at a better solution. Correct foot placement is the basis for me, before you start working on fitting a bike further.
Veerle is also the living proof that the Phits design wizard really is expert driven. The software gives good suggestions, but very often she still adds extra's to the soles or she adjusts the predicted parameters. "I usually follow the software for 70 to 80 percent, but most often I adjust things on the basis of my expertise and additional input, for example in the rigidity direction of the soles, or I may add pads or forefoot corrections."
So far, the reactions of the patients are very positive, she only knows of one patient for whom the adjustments just didn't work. "Apart from that, the reception is overwhelmingly positive. Patients recommend me to their family to get a pair of Phits designed because it has helped them a lot. The best stories are of course those people who now walk through life free of pain, who no longer have trouble with their achilles tendon and such"
What does Veerle think the future will bring for podiatry? Will digitized production become the norm? "It's hard to say. I think that I'll probably make more and more use of 3D printing for production, but I also expect that for me there will always be a manual adaptation component. The training also changes, nowadays there's less emphasis on the craft of making insoles. When I got started, the manual component was really important, but for the next generation of podiatrists, digital production is a logical next step.
More infomation can be found at www.sportpodo-dhaese.be