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New APHA book highlights role of podiatrists in public health field.

The importance of foot health as a public health issue has never been greater than it is today. While approximately 75 percent of Americans will experience foot problems of varying degrees of seriousness during their lives, diseases of the foot are among the most widespread and neglected health problems. As the population ages and chronic diseases become even more prevalent and disabling, preventive foot care and education will emerge as a major public health focus, according to a new APHA book.

Within the general public, there is a "misconception that feet are supposed to hurt, and that's not the case," said Arthur E. Helfand, DPM, editor and primary author of the new book, "Public Health and Podiatric Medicine, Principles and Practice." First published in 1987, the new, second-edition book includes expanded and updated information on the intersection of podiatrics and public health that is not available from any other source.

"This is the only current text in print that deals with the discipline of podiatric public health and the subject of foot health as a public health policy issue," Helfand told The Nation's Health.

The increased demand for podiatric physicians is related in part to Americans' desire to participate in exercise and fitness programs, said Helfand, professor emeritus at Temple University's School of Podiatric Medicine in Philadelphia. Foot pain limits mobility and participation in physical activities, he said. Compounding the demand is the fact that foot problems often mirror systemic chronic diseases that are related to complications and lifelong neglect. In addition, as the number of older Americans increases, the demand for podiatric care will continue to climb.

"The ability to keep active and walking is an important catalyst to maintain independent living and to provide a sense of dignity for our older population," Helfand said.

Podiatric public health is broadly defined as the special area of podiatric medicine that is concerned with the science and art of preventing and controlling disorders, diseases and malfunctions of the human foot, and promoting podiatric public health through organized community efforts. It serves the community as a patient, rather than the individual, and is concerned with the foot and related health education of the public, said Helfand, whose career spans 50 years and includes serving as the APHA Podiatric Health Section's first chair.

In the second edition of "Public Health and Podiatric Medicine," Helfand is joined by 14 contributing authors in presenting new information on international activities in public and podiatric medicine, emergency and disaster preparedness, the need for policies relating to the development of foot heath care as well as HIV/AIDS.

In one chapter, contributing author Martin Mussman, DPM, chronicles the history of podiatric medicine at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mussman joined the VA in 1951 as its first full-time podiatrist and in 1986 became the VA's first director of podiatry.

"Today, the podiatric service in the Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the most appreciated and popular services for our veteran patients," said Mussman, who noted that podiatry and optometry are the two services that see the most patients at the VA.

To purchase "Public Health and Podiatric Medicine, Principles and Practice," visit <www.aphabook store.org> or call (888) 320-2742.
COPYRIGHT 2007 The Nation's Health
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:American Public Health Association
Author:Johnson, Teddi Dineley
Publication:The Nation's Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Words:533
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