Golden Rule Guides Kentucky Certified Therapeutic Shoe Fitters

Alma Embry, CFTs, is concerned about souls and soles.
“We’re all God’s children,” Embry said. Her family owns
Embry Medical Supply, a durable medical equipment firm in Caneyville, Ky.

Embry practices what she preaches. “This gentleman came in who
nobody else would deal with because his feet and legs are in such bad
shape,” she said. “He was barely able to sit in a chair.”

Embry said the man’s feet and legs were so distended with edema
that she could barely put shoes on him. “Nobody else would help him. He
has severe diabetes and his wife was in the hospital. But this is what
we’re here for. Like I said, we’re all God’s children.”

As of 2005, Kentucky ranked seventh nationally in terms of adults
diagnosed with diabetes. Several people who live in and around Caneyville
— population 651 — have the disease.

Embry Medical had sold diabetes supplies for years before branching into
diabetic footwear. “I wanted to know what I was doing before we started
into shoes,” Embry said. “In a lot of places, they don’t know
how to fit shoes. They just give patients the shoes off the shelf and then bill
Medicare. I wanted us to be good at what we are doing.”

Embry figured what was good for her was just as good for her staff. Her
son, Aaron Embry and his wife, Sumer Embry, are both certified
therapeutic shoe fitters. So is Sandy Pierce, the assistant office

Shoe fitters uncommon

ABC-certified shoe fitters, like ABC-certified pedorthists, are uncommon
in rural areas like Grayson County, and so are facilities that dispense
Medicare-approved footwear. “We take great pride in making our patients
happy, and we are very glad to provide shoes to the people of Caneyville and
Grayson County, so they don’t have to go out the county to get good

Alma Embry

Alma Embry

Aaron Embry

Aaron Embry


Farm fields flank Embry Medical. “Maybe we aren’t the first
line of defense, but we’re pretty close to the front,” Sumer Embry

She and the staff do more than dispense socks, shoes and inserts,
over-the-counter and heat-molded. They take time to educate their clients about
diabetes by telling them that proper footwear can help save lives and limbs.

The Embry staff also does not hesitate to refer clients elsewhere for
help they cannot provide. “We send them to pedorthists and
orthotists,” Alma Embry said. “We also refer people back to their

Many of Embry’s patients are elderly. “But diabetes isn’t
just an old person’s disease,” she said. “For example, one of
our clients is still working. He has an insulin pump and drives a wrecker.
Climbing up and down into that wrecker all day, he needs the right kind of

Sumer Embry

Sumer Embry

Sandy Pierce

Sandy Pierce


Proper shoes often are longer on support than on style. That can be a
problem for people who need them, Embry said. “We want to wear shoes that
feel good but aren’t ugly.”

Good business

She said therapeutic shoe manufacturers are doing a better job of
blending support and style. “But if patients still don’t want the
shoes they need, we try to steer them in the right direction.”


Embry often wears the kind of shoes she dispenses. “One time, a
woman picked up a shoe, and I said, ‘I would like that shoe for
myself.’ That’s the shoe she bought. But we won’t sell anybody a
shoe that’s not right for their feet.”

Not all who come to Embry for shoes have foot problems. Some people just
want comfortable, properly fitted shoes, she said.

Embry and her staff sometimes drive to clients’ houses to fit
shoes. “We will go where people need us. A lot of people can’t get
out of their homes — they can’t drive. This is not like selling shoes
in a shoe store.


Good shoe fit is all in the family. Sumer Embry heats an insert, while Aaron Embry measures a client’s foot.
Good shoe fit is all in the family. Sumer Embry heats an insert, while Aaron Embry measures a client’s foot.

Good shoe fit is all in the family. Sumer Embry heats an insert, while Aaron Embry measures a client’s foot.

Images: Craig B, O&P Business News

“You hear their troubles. We’re not here just to sell shoes.
We’re here to make them feel better. You have to be patient with

Sumer Embry agreed. “You also have to be observant from the minute
they come in. You have to look at their shoes. You have to be observant of them
physically and mentally.”

She is considering getting certified as a pedorthist. Sumer would be the
first certified pedorthist in her county. “It looks interesting to
me,” she said. “A lot of doctors are surprised to know that we are
already certified to fit shoes. We tell them that we are not just glorified
shoe salesmen. We know what we are doing.”

Sandy Pierce, CFTs, does fitting and helps manage the firm.

Sandy Pierce, CFTs, does fitting and helps manage the firm.


And, she added with a grin, “To be a good certified fitter of
therapeutic shoes, you can’t be afraid of feet.”

Like her mother-in-law, Sumer sees her share of problem feet. “One
man — he was a very large person — came in with stage three edema. He
had an open infection on his foot, which I dressed and cleaned up and called
his doctor. But I treated him like I would want to be treated. We treat
everybody that way.”

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