Pedorthics, podiatry and speech pathology new to SCU

Published 30 July 2012

Southern Cross University will be the first university in Australia to offer a formal tertiary qualification in pedorthics.

A Bachelor in Clinical Science majoring in pedorthics will be offered from 2013. Speech pathology and podiatry, also new study areas offered from next year, will be offered as majors through the Bachelor of Health Science. The three allied health degrees will be based at the University’s Gold Coast campus.

Historically, pedorthics has been studied via vocational education and training, but this is set to change with the University offering the first pedorthics degree in Australia and indeed the Southern Hemisphere.

The pedorthics major is three years full-time study with graduates eligible to study a further two years to gain a podiatry degree.

“Lifting pedorthics into degree qualification will lift professionalism among the sector,” Clinical Science course coordinator Dr Jacinta Arellano said.

“Pedorthists specialise in the use of footwear and supportive devices to address conditions which affect the feet and lower limbs. They are trained in the assessment of lower limb anatomy and biomechanics and the appropriate use and manufacture of corrective footwear, including shoes, shoe modifications and lower limb orthoses.

“The knowledge and research in this area continues to grow so therefore the knowledge requirements of a pedorthist must also grow.”

Students undertaking the Bachelor of Health Science majoring in podiatry, which is a four year degree, will be able to undertake a further year of study to gain a pedorthics degree. This is the first time in Australia a podiatry course has offered an option in pedorthics, according to course coordinator Paul Butterworth.

“Podiatry is a branch of health devoted to the study, diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle and lower leg,” he said.

“Within the field of podiatry, practitioners can focus on many different areas including surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, paediatrics or primary care.”

Meanwhile, speech pathology course coordinator, Dr Bev Joffe, has promised a quality learning experience in the new full time four year Bachelor’s degree. SCU is one of the first to also offer a part-time study option for speech pathology.

“The graduates will be able to provide diagnosis and intervention for people of all ages with areas of need pertaining to swallowing, hearing, speech, receptive and expressive language, literacy, non-verbal communication, voice and fluency. These graduates will also be equipped for a variety of roles including assessment, treatment, consultation, education, advocacy and inter-professional collaboration,” she said.

“It is meaningful that our course is beginning in 2013, the International Year of Communication. It is also exciting that in 2013, the Gold Coast will host the National Speech Pathology conference which attracts delegates from across the country as well as overseas.”

The federal government has reported expected growth in the podiatry and speech pathology sectors over the next five years.

Southern Cross University is seeking accreditation for podiatry, speech pathology and pedorthics from the Australian and New Zealand Podiatry Accreditation Council, Speech Pathology Australia and the Medical Grade Footwear Register.

Photo: Karl-Heinz Schott, pedorthics course coordinator.

Media contact: Steve Spinks media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794.