Margaret Grace is a podiatrist for Flying Feet. Read more…
Flying Feet is a new service within the aviation medical (aeromedical) world. The U.K. based company, founded by director and aviation podiatrist, Margaret Grace in 2017, offers podiatry services and advice to airlines all over the world.
Often, when one considers the role of a podiatrist, traditional routine podiatry (chiropody), including the treatment of ingrown toenails, corns, bunions, etc., comes to mind. While treatment of all of these problems is relevant, when it comes to aviation podiatry, there is a bit more to it.
The role and skill set of a podiatrist are much more diverse than many people think. Besides offering routine podiatry treatments, another area in which podiatrists are trained is biomechanics or musculoskeletal (MSK) podiatry. MSK podiatry is typically concerned with the study and correction of problems with the way a person walks. Problems with how the foot functions while walking, can be the cause of not only foot pain, but also other symptoms in the knees, hips and even the lower back. Many cabin crew, at some point in their career, experience pain in these areas.
In her previous role as an aviation podiatrist for a major airline in the Middle East, both Margaret and her colleagues within the airline’s medical rehabilitation unit, identified that 30% of industrial injuries were actually lower limb related. Traditionally, measures to deal with lower limb issues by a podiatrist or other clinician (not employed by the airline nor aero-medically trained) largely proved unsuccessful and costly to the company. Aero-medical doctors employed by the company, but not podiatrists, were also often unsure how to deal with certain issues.
The need for specialist intervention has become apparent, especially considering health and safety obligations and a desire to promote staff retention. Margaret’s involvement with key organizations within the industry (including the Aerospace Medical Association) has allowed her to talk in a formal environment about the need for aviation podiatry and the work of Flying Feet. Areas of expertise that Flying Feet has been assisting some airlines with include:
• Sourcing better quality and style of cabin crew shoes
• Sourcing better quality and style of safety shoes
• Educating uniform teams and uniform wearers allowing them to make better decisions in terms of style and fit
• Clinically assessing crew, identifying MSK issues and helping to reduce industrial injuries
• Educating in-house medical teams to deal with lower limb related issues more appropriately (Granting permission to wear flat shoes off the aircraft is not always the best solution.)
Ultimately, Flying Feet aims to empower airlines to make informed decisions that will help reduce injuries, promote staff retention, improve well-being, and reduce costs. It is clear that currently, within an industry that is extremely image conscious, aviation podiatry is not considered a priority. Hopefully, as Margaret and her team at Flying Feet continue to raise awareness, individuals within the industry with the ability to influence and introduce positive changes, will learn that aviation podiatry has an important role. Working together, they can positively influence uniform teams without compromising the desired professional image.
To speak to Margaret about any of the above, please Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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