The wrong advice

Ok, picture this…

True story.

I was in a shoe shop a few days ago, and happened to overhear a conversation with one of the shop attendants (SA) and a customer (C). It went something like this.

SA – Hi, how can I help you today.
C – Hi, I’m visiting from New Zealand and wanted to drop in and try on some of your minimalist shoes so that I can work out what size I am in that brand. Then when I get home I’ll place an order with you guys via your website.
SA – No worries, how about we do an assessment first so that we can make sure you get the shoes you need?
C – Sure, what do I need to do.
SA – Ok, first I’ll get you to walk and then run on this treadmill for me, then we’ll do a few orthopedic test of your foot and ankle, and I’ll get you to stand on this force place to measure where you are applying the most pressure through your feet.

***Assessment takes place***

SA – Ok, do you have any pain in your feet or legs?
C – No, I’m generally pretty fine in the that department.
SA – Do you get any back pain?
C – Nup, all good.
SA – Well based on your assessment I’ve found the following things. Your arches are quite weak, with one being worse than the other. That can lead to your feet excessively pronating, and on the side of the weaker arch, you have a higher chance of developing a leg length discrepancy. That can lead to other more complicated issues in the hip and low back.
Do you see a Chiropractor in New Zealand?
C – No, but I have seen a Physiotherapist in the past who was quite good. Would they be of any help?
SA – Maybe, but I think a Chiropractor would be better at helping with these issues.
C – So what will happen to me if I don’t get these issues looked at?
SA – It’s hard to say, but you have a predisposition to several different conditions because of the state of your feet and ankles. You should get these issues seen to by a professional.
C – What about these minimalist shoes, will they help?
SA – Yes they will help strengthen your feet, but it is definitely worth getting the things I have identified seen to also. You don’t want to end up in pain or with other long term issues.

At this point the customer thanked the shop attendant with a worried face, and left.

I couldn’t believe what I heard!!!
Do I even need to point out the problems with this story???

Let’s turn this into a case study challenge. See if you can answer the following questions, and I’d love to hear from you via email with your answers.

1) Given the fact that the patient reports no pain or dysfunction, what did the shop attendant do wrong, with regard to how they explained the physical assessment findings?

2) How could have the shop attendant communicated their findings differently?

3) What was the issue with the shop attendant’s advice regarding what the patient should do now?

Oh, did I mention that the shop attendant is also a qualified health practitioner?
I kid you not!

Ok, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this exchange and your responses to the 3 questions above.