Question on Orthotics


10-Year Member
Sep 16, 2006
Hello old freind - it's been a year since I posted - glad to hear you're still moderating things here!

My son continues to rehab his swollen knees after being given a Medical Turnback during the middle of the 2011 BCT at the Air Force Academy. Our orthopedic doc is telling us that one way to help avoid a second episode would be to use an orthotic device in his boots (i.e. a form fitted molded insert) and to use special running shoes (on the assumption that the academy issued BCT running shoes were poor and did not give his high arches enough support, therefore affecting his knees.....long story there). So the question is this - are cadets usually allowed to bring / use these inserts and/or to provide thier own running shoes, especially if recomended by a doc? Anyone "run" into this situation before and know how it was handled? And does DODMERB get involved in any way if he's already been Q'd in the past?

Standing by for the support I know the Forum can muster! :)

I don't know how to quote things so I just had to cut/paste from a prior thread that I found. These are two replies from RetNavy to a similar question last year. My interpretation of this last year was if the orthotics were prescribed by an MD then DoDMRB had to be told. If they were OTC then they didn't need to be told.

#3 16th January 2007

Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Falcon, CO
Posts: 933

OTC (over the counter) inserts, like Dr. Scholl's, are not an issue, and applicants can take them to I-day without any issue. I know for a a fact that the USNA midshipmen store carries the Dr. Scholl's inserts (not just the odor ones). It becomes an issue when an applicant can not perform activities (yes, standing in formation for 2 hours at a time is considered an activity) without pain and requires prescription orthodics.

15th January 2007 RetNavyHM

Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Falcon, CO
Posts: 933


Unfortunately DoDMERB will have to disqualify you for the following: Current symptomatic pes planus (acquired, congenital) or history of pes planus corrected by prescription or custom orthotics.

This is a "history of" disqualification, which means that if at any time in your life you have had this, it is a disqualification.

Now for the good news. This disqualification is easily waived if, while wearing the orthotics, you have no problems, and your pes planus (flat feet) does not restrict you from normal activities.

So when you get the disqualification letter from DoDMERB, do not panic, just wait for the waiver authority to make a determination. For USMA it is forwarded automatically to the wavier authorities.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask away!
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I am going to assume that your son is having to re-apply to the academy for this year. If I'm wrong, please let me know, but my response will be based on having to re-apply.

Your son's DoDMERB physical examination will be re-reviewed for the new year, and as such DoDMERB will need to be told of the medical changes that have occurred and any new treatment options. Most likely there will be at least one disqualification, if not more, due to the previous injuries and new orthotics.

Since your son was already a part of the class of 2011, and as long as he has healed, there should be no problems with a waiver, and if waived, the orthotics would not be an issue.

Now if I was wrong about your son having to re-apply, please let me know as that will change the answer quite a bit.
Thanks for the reply Ret'd. In answer to your assumption, "No", he does not need to re-apply to AFA as he was given an official Medical Turnback during thier last years BCT (basic cadet training - the 6 week "I Day" in June, just before the academic year). The turnback pretty much states that they are holding him a spot in this years 2012 class and that he does not have to re-apply for nominations, appointments, etc. (and we were under the assumption that his previous DODMERB exam is/was still valid for at least a year, etc.)

The question then is this - do you have any idea if we have to get a new full blown DODMERB examination now that he's gone thru various doc appointments reviewing the cause of this knee pain? Note that nothing is showing up on our page of the DODMERB website other than his previous waivers...maybe that will come up later as we get closer?

Also, at what point do we let anyone know about the Orthonics? I.e. IF they end up working and his pain is relieved in time to return to the academy? Do we call up DODMERB and provide this new info, knowing it will probably DQ him, forcing another round of waiver requests that might not come in time? Or do we just wait till he arrives onsite at AFA for the "exam on arrival" part of I-Day and present things to the AFA docs then? Being a previous turnback I'm sure he'll be specially treated when he returns....

Standing by for the answer I think I know is coming.... :confused:

Since he does not have to reapply, then he doesn't need to go through the DoDMERB process again. You need to contact the admissions office and find out what you need to do. Most likely they will ask for the medical records, do an internal review and as long as he is healed, let him show up.

Best answer is to have him contact the admissions office.