PAL Health Technologies was established in 1976, beginning its legacy in the orthotic industry in Pekin, IL. It has since expanded its inventory to include a comprehensive catalog of corrective lower extremity devices, including custom foot orthoses, diabetic and accommodative inserts, ankle braces, and therapeutic shoes.
PAL exploded on the technology scene in the past decade with the development of the XtremityOne, a digital foot-imaging device that eliminates the need for traditional casting and saves practitioners time with immediate, electronic ordering. The system also supports indefinite electronic storage of foot imaging data and order histories.
Two of PAL’s most popular devices are sport foot orthoses, the ProTech and the System 3.0 Sport. Both products can accommodate diverse foot conditions.
The System 3.0 is available in three rigidities and is ideal for active patients with heel spurs, tendinitis, or moderate to severe pronation, said PAL Director of Marketing Sarah Breymeier. The orthosis provides maximum arch support and the material is a bit lighter and thinner than alternative sport orthosis materials, making it a great solution for any type of cleat.
The ProTech, made with shock-absorbing polypropylene, is suited for patients with shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and rearfoot varus. PAL recommends contralateral use of the ProTech in patients using PAL’s Platinum Ankle Brace, another staple of the company’s product line.
The Platinum Ankle Brace, indicated for patients with ankle instability and weakness, stabilizes the subtalar and midtarsal joints, providing effective conservative custom treatment. It’s available in graphite or heat-moldable plastic, but can be lined with a microcellular polyurethane/Plastazote combo for patients with diabetes. PAL also offers a dorsi-assist version.
The Platinum Ankle Brace is PAL’s top-selling custom ankle foot orthosis. Practitioners can customize a brace based completely on their patients’ pathologies with the “build-a-brace program,” that allows mixing and matching of different materials and accommodations.
Although custom devices are PAL’s core business, the company relaunched its off-the-shelf ankle line, Transition Ankle, in December 2013. The relaunch has a more focused product lineup, emphasizing those that are most commonly dispensed for immediate ankle treatment.
“We know not every patient is a candidate for a custom AFO, but many could benefit from initial and immediate enhanced stability,” said Breymeier. “The Transition Ankle line provides a noncustom solution. We recommend that our practitioners have a good supply of these braces on hand so that when a patient comes in to be casted for a custom AFO, the practitioner can cast the patient, send the cast to PAL for manufacturing, but send the patient home with an off-the-shelf brace that provides some relief or stability.”
This one-stop shop for custom and off-the-shelf devices was one of the goals of PAL’s founder and first chief executive officer (CEO), Jeff Schoenfeld, who passed away in 2012.
Jeff’s wife, Carole Schoenfeld, has since stepped up as CEO. Meanwhile, the company has re-embraced its roots.
“We’ve taken another look at how we ensure the highest caliber of product and customer service that our clients deserve,” said Breymeier. “We know how crucial it is for our brand to uphold an unparalleled customer experience. It’s that experience that provides our practitioners with a sense of trust.”
Breymeier said many customers over the years have benefited from PAL’s products, including an elderly woman who had been confined to a wheelchair and can now walk with support from the Platinum Ankle Brace, a man who avoided foot amputation by using XFit Diabetic Inserts, and a small child with a severe in-toeing gait pattern who learned to walk normally after being fitted with PAL’s Roberts Whitman pediatric orthosis.
Making PAL products possible are 75 employees with an average company tenure of 20 years. The experienced staff provides precise, detailed workmanship on each product. PAL has also trained and developed many longtime industry professionals.
Although Breymeier anticipates innovative products in the future, she said PAL is dedicated to leading the industry with unmatched customer service and the highest level of orthosis precision.
As part of this effort PAL now provides a free upgrade to two-day shipping of casts and final products (for the 48 mainland US states via UPS, both to and from its lab). “It’s essentially an added value received by partnering with PAL,” said Breymeier.
“Our goals are to make sure that we continue to supply a product and service that continues to improve quality of life,” she said. “We want to make sure our internal processes coordinate with the processes of each practice so we can continue to seamlessly serve the end-user—the patient.”
P.K. Daniel is a freelance writer and editor based in San Diego, CA