As you know, I love sharing about our city: The people, the places, the events we can enjoy. Today I’ve got an interview with Matthew Shestalo – a chiropodist here in Mississauga. He’ll tell us more about what that means and how he serves our community.
What's a chiropodist?!
A chiropodist is basically a foot specialist. A lot of people get confused between a chiropodist and a podiatrist. They do mostly the same thing, but they are different models of education and focus areas. Podiatry is usually an education that you get in the United States - it's a four-year program, just like going to med school, except you specialize right away in foot health. The focus is all on the feet.
Chiropody is not an American model; it's a British model, a three-year program. The difference between the three- and the four-year is that I didn't learn how to do bone surgery. It does confuse the public a lot in Ontario because you essentially have two foot specialists generally working under the same scope of practice. There seems to be a bit of an overlap between podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons. Whenever there is a patient of mine who does require bone surgery, I'll refer out either privately to a podiatrist or publicly to an orthopedic surgeon.
You have a really interesting business model that I haven't seen before. Tell us about it.
I've been practicing in private clinics since I graduated about 4.5 years ago. I was noticing that certain services that patients come to see me for require them to take time out of their day and come see me multiple times. These might be biomechanical analysis for foot injury, for preventative health, and to develop a custom orthotic piece for them.
What happens is a patient comes to see me and they'll have certain issues biomechanically with their foot. I'll give them all the education, do all the assessment, everything. And if they do require an orthotic, then they have to come back and see me again - usually during business hours. So, they have to take time out of their day and come see me twice. The first time is to get the assessment and the foot scan, typically. And then the second visit would be to come pick up the product.
I thought that I would eliminate all of that and just go to them. We either do a visit to their office and we go to a private room, or predominantly it's been going to someone's home. Usually, it's when they get home from work, before they go to work or on the weekend. They don't have to leave their home at all and they're getting the exact same assessment as if we were in the office, and they're getting the exact same education. I use this new technology that consists of scanning the foot using an iPad. It's really cool because it's very, very accurate.
Note from Chris: To catch folks up, Matthew made a set of orthotics for me. He came after hours to the office and brought these little foot models. He gave me all sorts of education about what was going on with my foot. Some of the things were actually a surprise – I thought I was more flatfooted than I am, but my ankle was really just rolling in. And then he scanned my foot using the iPad, right in my office. There are several hundred thousand touch points which makes it very accurate.
A little bit better than trying to do a clay model or something, right?
Yeah. There’s nothing wrong with the old school method of doing a clay model – I still do them in the office – so long as the foot is cast in a specific position we call SJT neutral. But in terms of a mobile practice, it's difficult for me to do a plaster cast inside your office, ‘cause it'd be pretty messy and require some cleanup afterward!
Some modifications to the orthotic can always happen, and that's completely fine. I do find that some people feel badly about asking me to come back for modification, but that's just part of the game. And the whole point here is for you to be comfortable, whether we're trying to manage a current issue or we're trying to prevent one. Going back and seeing a client and modifying the device is no problem at all.
After it’s made, you put the orthotic into your shoe and you just ease into it. You break it in gradually and then you're good to go. It can feel a little weird at first – like the foot is higher up in the shoe or the shoe is too tight. Typically, the shoe and the orthotic and your foot itself will all adjust relatively quickly.
So, it's been a really fun side gig doing this, but I also obviously love to do in-clinic work as well. There are quite a few treatments that require a sterile environment so I can’t really do those anywhere other than my own office.
Can you give us an idea of some of those other treatments that you do in the office?
Oh yeah, absolutely. Any type of ingrown toenails are really, really, really common for me to see. Any type of callous, corns, fungal infections, the list goes on. Anything I need to use a scalpel or tools for. I actually won't do these procedures out of the office, because ergonomically, it doesn't make sense to do it in someone's house. I have all the technology and tools available to me in clinic. And there’s no way for me to ensure a sterile environment.
What are some of your favorite things about your mobile practice?
It’s been really fun. You develop trust with your client and their family right away. A lot of it is word-of-mouth, so they have that trust right off the bat, which is great. But for someone who's just coming on my website and booking that way, it's just an unbelievable feeling because it's something that I created. And then I get the opportunity to help these people and teach them about their feet and how to get the most out of the work I’m doing for them.
There’s a lot of lingo that most people aren't familiar with and you explained it in terms that I understood. It was really interesting actually.
Education is the biggest thing, right? I really like to teach; sometimes I talk maybe too much! But I’m glad you enjoyed learning about it all. But mostly it's supposed to be a convenient thing for you. It should be the most convenient experience that you've had in terms of this type of product.
If someone wants to get ahold of you, wants to get in some information about their feet, or come in and get them checked out, how can they find you?
A few different ways. You can find more info on my website and you can also email me or get my number from there. You can call me directly if you have any questions. I'm very happy to answer them.
You can find Mattew Shestalo of Feel Orthotics on his website https://feelorthotics.com/ or at his office located in Mississauga. I want to add that I've had no knee pain since I got the orthotics. I even signed up for a 10K at the end of April. I've got a 12-week training plan ready to go and I hope I can do the run pain-free. I have been working out and doing some other things, and I've been pain-free so far, so I'm pretty excited about that. I hope you’ll check out what Matt has to offer if you have your own foot or joint pain.