Fit Feet at the Special Olympics

by Nadia Nikoueiha.

Growing up, every two years while alternating with the Winter and Summer Olympics, I recall when the Special Olympics were held. However, not much publicity was created by the media in Sweden to highlight the achievements of these Olympians; thus, my curiosity in the event was lacking to say the least. I was never too keen on learning more about the event until I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Special Olympics event in Ames, Iowa last year. It was a profound experience that showed the gravity of how much effort each participant had put into their training by harnessing their disability to compete in each individual event. Not only were the Olympics an awe-inspiring inclusion of each Olympian’s uniqueness, but it was certainly a clinical learning experience as well.

I observed many of the conditions that we had studied via books or lectures…

The podiatry students were assigned positions at the “Fit Feet” station where a podiatric screening was held. The attending doctor and the third-year podiatry volunteers were gracious in their assistance to the first and second-year students by demonstrating many of the podiatric screening procedures, many of which involved evaluations of the foot, ankle, lower extremity biomechanics, and shoe and sock gear. I observed many of the conditions that we had studied via books or lectures; for example, onychocryptosis, paronychia, and forefoot abductions.

As part of the foot screening, we would measure the Olympians’ feet length and width with a Brannock device. It impressed me to realize the staggering number of participants who had ill-fitting shoes. Each participant also demonstrated a unique gait which indicated the possible complications they may experience in the future if not corrected now. For instance, a very common issue observed was moderate to severe pes planus, which impacted the posture and balance of the participants and may cause pain. This condition can be corrected with soft tissue procedures, but oftentimes proper fitting shoes are enough to manage it. Perhaps, as part of future Special Olympic events, fundraising may occur in advance to procure proper shoes that would be provided to the Olympians the day of screening so they can compete more comfortably and efficiently.

…a broader and more enlightened perspective…

In retrospect, my participation in this Special Olympics event provided me a broader and more enlightened perspective into the human determination and resilience, despite what society might deem as a disability and shortcoming.

by Nadia Nikoueiha.

School: Des Moines University School of Podiatric Medicine


Fit Feet at the Special Olympics

topic review, Student, Lifestyle, 

Have the urge to write something? Are you motivated to publish something worth sharing? Want to give advice, helpful tips, or podiatry news to the younger generation? Visit our Authors section before submitting. Get in contact with us and one of our student journalists will reach out to you. We hope to get from people around the world that way