Corporate Spotlight: David Wedemeyer and Solelutions Orthotic Lab

We are extremely excited about this post, because it's our first ever Corporate Spotlight!

Dr. David Wedemeyer of Wedemeyer Chiropractic and Orthotics AND Solelutions Orthotic Lab has become the first corporate sponsor of the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance.  Dr. Wedemeyer is located in Costa Mesa, California and is a Cleveland Chiropractic College - Los Angeles graduate. 

To learn more about his view, experience, and sponsorship, keep reading!

FTCA: First, tell us a little bit about yourself.

DW: I graduated from CCC-LA in 2000 and immediately moved back to Newport Beach CA (where I am originally from). I started out renting space in an office full of principled chiropractors where I practiced for about 5 years. After moving forward and renting space within a different office briefly, I finally opened in my current location 8 years ago.

I focus on MSK injuries with a secondary emphasis on lower extremity complaints and custom foot orthoses. I am also a Certified Pedorthist and possess knowledge of the production and manufacturing aspects of CFO’S and now own a lab which makes these devices for a broad range of health care providers.

In the past, I cut my teeth on the Orthotic and Prosthetic industry by becoming the only chiropractor enrolled as a supplier for the Medicare Diabetic Therapeutic Shoe Bill. As a DME supplier I was exposed to a wide range of lower extremity pathologies and managing these patients within the greater allied health care system. I am proud of the great local referral network that I’ve been fortunate enough to build up through this association and now many refer for chiropractic as well

FTCA: What is chiropractic to you?

DW: Chiropractic to me is a profession whose main therapeutic tool is manipulation and main tenant is conservative, holistic care. I see the profession as a portal of entry, physician specialist of conservative, manual neuromusculoskeletal care.

FTCA: Did you choose the chiropractic life or did the chiropractic life choose you?

DW: When I was 14 years old, I experienced some mid back pain. It would get so bad that my muscles would pull my spine to the one side. I would be bent over and have difficulty breathing for several days. In efforts to find relief, I sought care from a wide variety of practitioners, which eventually led to a scoliosis diagnosis. After a couple of years, I had a work injury and was referred to a chiropractor. I walked into the visit bent over (at 16 years old) and walked out of the office standing up the same day.

The DC was a Gonstead doc, I saw him for 3 months. After 2 months of care, I was surprised to see that my spine was pretty straight compared to previous x-rays. Those results left a lasting impression on me. Being very active, I saw numerous chiropractors over the years I always had a chiropractic career in mind and didn’t make the jump until age 33. So yes, my experiences with various chiropractors and success with them influenced my decision.

FTCA: What school did you attend and why?

DW: After polling a few of the DC’s that I had seen over the years (one a very close friend), I chose CCC-LA because I heard that their graduates were the most successful in practice. It also offered a lot of technique classes, which was largely appealing. I did make a visit Life West and Western States but chose to stay closer to home and my family. I wish I could tell you that I chose one school over another for empirical reasons but I can’t.

FTCA: Knowing what you know now, would you change anything about either of those decisions?

DW: Absolutely! Despite believing I received a great education from CCC-LA, I would’ve chosen a more progressive college. Don’t get me wrong, I recieved an excellent education at CCC-LA, passed all boards without any review courses, had excellent technique instructors etc. I just don’t think the curriculum at the time lent superiority to any one college but I may have chosen a college that offered more rehabilitation options.

FTCA: What do you find most frustrating about the profession?

DW: Easily the lack of unity and the lack of a cohesive focused paradigm for the future of the profession. Internships are lacking, admission standards are below many allied fields, and job opportunities outside private practice are very meager. I find our leadership and my state association are in many aspects out of touch.

FTCA: How do we overcome that?

DW: We need to adopt higher entrance standards, encourage greater state association and FTCA membership (grow the group!!). Promoting intra-professional relationships and inter-professional relationships with allied healthcare professionals should be paramount. We need the public and other allied fields to see the profession as competent, a well trained and organized group that has much to offer in the broader health care system.

It’s going to take a concerted effort to overcome the lack of a cogent public message and rebuild our public equity. Our image no doubt has been tarnished by allopathy but we are also complicit in allowing our standards to diminish which encourages fringe practice.

FTCA: How do you manage to balance your professional and personal lives?

DW: I keep them completely separate, period. I’m a very social person but private by nature. In my spare time I am an avid cyclist, martial artist and writer. I try to maintain a balance and not talk shop too much outside office hours. I think it is important to not be defined and limited to what you do professionally during the work week.

FTCA: What’s the favorite part of your day?

DW: New patient encounters are my absolute favorite part of my day. Formerly being in sales, I left a great job to pursue a more fulfilling day helping others. I was simply bored although sales can be very enjoyable. When you meet with a new patient you have a limited time to try and gather everything pertinent to their complaint and offer a solution. I enjoy the critical reasoning part of our daily clinical practice because I enjoy problem solving and especially difficult cases.

FTCA: How has being a member of the FTCA been beneficial to you?

DW: It has really saved my mental health! It’s refreshing to know that there are colleagues out there who are interested in the same issues the profession faces that I am. It is comforting to know that there is a large group of like-minded individuals motivated to address the glaring problems facing the profession and quite frankly it’s given me hope for our future.

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FTCA: Alright, let’s get down to business. Tell us about your orthotic company, por favor.

DW: I had a brief relationship with a practice management group as their orthotics division head. During that time, I became acutely aware that their marketing and how they wanted to utilize my knowledge and skill did not align with my own paradigm. This is also true of many of the companies that we are familiar with and thus has prompted me to start my own company.

In 2013, I created Solelutions Orthotic Lab and endeavored to bridge the gap between what is common in our profession, and what is more standard and efficacious in the greater Orthotic and Prosthetic industry and allied (trained) fields.

FTCA: What piqued your interest in orthotics?

DW: I have had my own foot issues over the years and experienced a great deal of frustration finding resolution of these issues. These include plantar fasciitis, a neuroma and a Haglund's deformity. I began reading everything that I could find on the subject, befriending orthopedic foot & ankle specialists, podiatrists, orthotists, and pedorthists.

Ultimately, this led me to become a Certified Pedorthist and a DMERC supplier for the Medicare Diabetic Shoe Bill. The education afforded to me through these pursuits led me to realize just how lacking chiropractic education is in the lower extremity especially with respects to foot orthoses.

FTCA: How did you become an expert in the area?

DW: I consider myself a product of all of the great minds that taught me over the years and I am still learning. There are at least seven notable podiatrists in my group (Solelutions Orthotic Lab Discussion Group) that have taught me much of what I know and utilize in practice.

It has taken years of constant learning, patient assessment, learning about materials, methods, modifications, understanding gait and how that changes my prescription for the devices. Some months, I am referred over 40 patients just for custom foot orthoses (CFO's) by physicians. You have to able to achieve a high rate of success to garner that kind of trust from our medical counterparts.

FTCA: Has your knowledge been useful in bridging gaps between healthcare professionals and in building relationships with them?

DW: The orthopedists, GP's and podiatrists in my area have become familiar with the quality of my work and began referring foot and ankle patients to me. I am often a first contact for GP's prior to orthopedic referral. They know that I am a team player and now many refer spinal patients as well. This is obviously a goal of all chiropractors, as greater interprofessional cooperation can garner greater recognition and referral for the individual practice.

I've actually become friends wth many of these physicians, being offered to follow them in practice and observe surgeries, sometimes just lunch or dinner. Some have even referred their own family members, including a neurosurgeon's wife for migraines. Having a unique skill set has served to open many doors that are otherwise very difficult to breach typically.

FTCA: We’ve all read the amazingly generous offer that you’ve made to support the FTCA. Can you tell us about it again and what made you decide to go forward with it?

DW: My goal in supporting the FTCA is to support the group financially and educationally. The progressive goals of the group resonate with my practice and the group as a whole. I hope that by familiarizing its membership with the lab and training, that their individual level of understanding of the subject will be impacted favorably. Of course, this will also hopefully draw new clients with a sincere interest in pedal biomechanics and conservative treatment to investigate what we have to offer. I believe that the quality of what we will be teaching, what we will produce and our financial commitment to the FTCA will prove a win, win for everyone.

In making this commitment to the FTCA, I am also committing to producing the highest quality education and product to our clients and the membership. The FTCA seeks to improve clinical practice standards and this aligns perfectly with the goals of my lab. We can bridge the gap between our mutual goals and the talking points of the group as a whole with regard to CFO's.

All doctors who mention the FTCA when they sign up and order, are tracked. Each order will produce revenue for the FTCA. We have assigned a very generous percentage initially to help immediately fund the group's growing financial demands to pursue progress within the profession.

FTCA: What makes your company different than the other existing chiropractic orthotic companies?

DW: In the greater O&P industry, Solelutions Orthotic Lab enjoys a great deal in common with other quality orthotic labs. Many companies that market to chiropractors are product and not process based. What this means is that they remove the doctor's clinical decision making process

They also employ two-dimensional "scanners" to supplant traditional volumetric molds, which simply cannot capture three-dimensional structures accurately. Add to that proprietary casting methods and one size fits all, singular material orthotics offering no choice of shell modifications and the entire process becomes reductionist in terms of customization. These processes are shortcuts that produce a lesser product and often at much higher cost than traditional labs.

Doesn't chiropractic already have far too many gimmicks?

FTCA: Why are orthotics important?

DW: Because often changing forces and offloading or improving the function of the tissues and muscle moments of the lower extremity is all that is required to reduce symptoms and improve healing. They are an adjunct to many of the methods that we employ in routine practice and often a first line of treatment for many lower extremity and sometimes spinal complaints.

They are not a panacea, but they are very useful. Being able to identifying the patients with foot pathology that may be helped with CFO's is paramount to success. Orthotics are widely used; they’re often first line of treatment for foot pathology internationally (Canada, Europe, etc). Every clinical trial and outcome study that I have read, bears out that there is some benefit found for the group wearing a CFO in the study (often for OTC orthotics as well).

As chiropractors, we’re not defined by one method and one treatment. Having this in your tool bag offers a more variety to the patient (while also providing legitimate stream of revenue to the practice).

FTCA: What’s the most overlooked foot condition, in your opinion?

DW: Plantar Fasciitis! Almost exclusively, as it is of a biomechanical etiology. Knowing about the timing of gait (toe off, etc), there’s a wide variety of things you can modify in the orthotic shell to improve biomechanics and thus reduce loading of the plantar fascia. Posterior Tibial Tendinitis is yet another common presentation that we will explore in more detail in future discussions.

The most misunderstood concept is, in my opinion, the term "overpronation" as it is a normal consequence of gait and the typical DC knows it as an over-simplification of a very complex process. It is also the main marketing term some labs favor and it spotlights just how reductionist their knowledge of the subject really is.

FTCA: Is this something every chiropractor should be knowledgeable about?

DW: Any chiropractor that claims to treats the whole body CANNOT ignore the feet. We take an average of 10,000 steps each day. Let's take an overuse syndrome for example, a sprain/strain of a specific muscle or joint group, by mediating pathologic forces by changing temporal patterns of the affected joints is a goal of foot orthosis therapy.

Plantar fasciitis is a prime example of an overuse syndrome where often the etiology is overloading of the medial plantar fascia via faulty biomechanics. There are straightforward shell modifications that based on that patient’s individual foot architecture and muscular activity during gait causes high loads to initiate the windlass mechanism, leading to tissue stress and eventually dysfunction.

You simply cannot always help these patients without addressing the cause of the dysfunction. This is where the art of assessment and your knowledge become key and is often a missing element in the process

FTCA: You seem very passionate about educating your peers; do you have any plans to formally and officially do so?

DW: My goal is to design CEU courses, and bring renowned foot and ankle physicians in to share their knowledge and perspective. A foundation in research and evidence-based practice will be key. My hope is to eliminate the confusion I see in colleagues questions, and deliver a concise, practical course for those DCs who want to dispense the highest quality foot orthoses to their patients.

Ideally, seminars could be hosted in conjunction with and by state associations, online, and even by opening up the lab up in time to offer courses there. I have lofty goals, and I just need the help of everyone in here and within the profession to reach them. This is a huge paradigm shift from what is more common with regard to dispensing CFO’s in the profession currently. Ultimately, I would like to be able to reduce my years of study into a concise package that my colleagues can learn from and use in practice.

Please be sure to visit his website!