Podiatry helps millions of Americans deal with their foot pain but it also serves other purposes. Podiatrists like those at City Podiatry can choose to assist the law enforcement field with a specialty known as forensic podiatry. Get to know a surprising and fascinating part of what podiatry does outside of general practice.
The field is relatively new, starting in the 1970s. Investigators on a crime scene may have evidence that needs a podiatrist to explain; this evidence could be footprints or video footage of someone walking. A forensic podiatrist is trained not only in podiatry, but forensics to hone their skills. They take into consideration the feet, ankles, and legs as well as how they function. The knowledge of podiatry will be used to look for deformities and diseases that can change the feet, legs, and even the way a person walks. The entire body can influence the gait, so those details are also taken into consideration.
There are several aspects that play a part in this field, the crucial area is footprints. These clues are found in a variety of places like outside in soil or inside on floors, chairs, and even the body of a victim. The footprint is analyzed to reveal clues to the identity. Footprints found at the scene of a crime are collected by the forensic team; they are used to show a person or persons at the scene. These footprints can be of bare feet or shoes worn at the time, so the prints could cover a range of sizes or shoe sole patterns. A cast is taken and each footprint is brought into the lab for further analysis. Photographs are done of the area in a move to help preserve the evidence.
A shoe print or even a shoe that is located at a scene can help investigators. The shoe itself might have DNA evidence on it from the criminal or the crime scene. The podiatrist will look at the shoe to study the wear pattern of the sole as they take into consideration the daily wear and tear that the shoe has gone through. This method of analysis can be done on the inside as well as the outside of the shoe. An insole can show the exact pattern of a foot. It will reveal who wore it and allow the investigators to build an impression. With the footwear identified, then the footprints can be analyzed to determine height and weight and even whether the person was standing, walking or running.
Other Ways Podiatrists Assist Crime Analysis
The forensic podiatrist can also help in other ways. If a body or body part, like a foot, is found they may be called in to make an identification. Medical records will assist the forensic podiatrist in this part of the process. They also play a part in deciding the unknown factors of a crime scene and what happened before, during, and after the event. If a reconstruction of the crime scene is needed, these doctors can offer opinions.