Do those words sound familiar to you? They should – it’s a concept taken from the Hippocratic Oath. Hippocrates was a physician in ancient Greece. Among other things, he is famous for developing a standard of medical etiquette that has shaped the profession over the ages.  Most modern day physicians still say some sort of pledge to follow the principles of the Hippocratic Oath upon their graduation from medical school.

The actual phrase “First, do no harm” doesn’t necessarily appear in the modern day translations of the Oath.  You have to step back to the Latin versions to find the origin of this exact wording. Primum non nocere is the way it was written in Latin.  Nocere is the word for physically injuring a person, especially in the way that a criminal or a bully would beat up a victim.

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I think about this concept every day. In many ways, it may be what led me into the field of Pedorthics and Orthotics.  This is a profession that doesn’t get a lot of fanfare. I have mentioned in previous posts that I almost always have to explain my job to people – it’s not a well-recognized field. Leave it to me to pick the most obscure corner of the medical world to call my own.  The reason almost nobody has heard of Pedorthics and Orthotics is that we are, by definition, un-invasive.

My work comes down to this: all I am doing is preventing further harm – the patient’s body has to accomplish its own healing.  My job is to support, align and hold everything in place until the patient can recover from their injury.  I am not doing nothing, but I am doing as little as possible.  I’m not cutting anyone open, feeding anyone pills or injecting anyone with chemicals. I am just giving them something to wrap around, reinforce and rest upon.

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This month, I am working on adding an additional certification to my dossier. I will be taking a class to become a “Certified Orthotic Fitter”. Yeah, I know this is confusing since as a Pedorthist I already make and fit custom foot orthotics all the time. But this additional certification will allow me to fit braces and splints onto the entire body, not just the foot and ankle. I am excited about it. This will give me some more variety in my life. It will expand my scope of practice and give me the opportunity to help facilitate the healing of all kinds of injuries.

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Walk well!

Sources:

http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/libraries/rare/medicine/HippocratesAphorismi1736.jpg

http://www.ubortho.buffalo.edu/crooked.html

http://www.bocusa.org/orthotic-fitter-certification-cof

www.ossur.com

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