Every year on June 3rd we celebrate “World Clubfoot Day.” The Ponseti International Association selected this date to commemorate the birthdate of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti.
Dr. Ponseti developed the Ponseti method to treat clubfoot. With this treatment method, a clubfoot baby will be able to enjoy their childhood…may it be full of run and play, stand and walk, skipping, jumping, twirling and more!
What is clubfoot?
Clubfoot is a treatable birth defect. The baby is born with a tight achilles tendon and calf muscles that cause the foot to twist inward and down, developing in utero; this known as a congenital defect as it is present at birth. One or both feet may be affected, and range from moderately flexible to stiff and rigid. Clubfoot is not painful for a newborn; however, if it is left untreated it will be painful and extremely trying to walk, if at all possible.
There are no known causes of clubfoot. Research has been found that a child is more likely to develop clubfoot if a parent or family member had it.
World Clubfoot Day serves as an important day to raise global awareness about clubfoot and the treatment using the Ponseti Method.
Ignacio Ponseti Developed Treatment for Clubfoot
(Photo Source: https://data.desmoinesregister.com/famous-iowans/ignacio-ponseti)
Clubfoot and Ponseti Method Important Facts:
- Affects nearly 200,000 newborns each year
- The Ponseti Method is nearly 100% effective when it is correctly applied.
- The majority of clubfeet can be corrected with the Ponseti Method in infancy during the first 6-8 weeks. The foot is manipulated to the correct position by means of a plaster casting series (with an Achilles tendon procedure before the last cast), then a splint is worn full-time for 2-3 months and lastly, a temporary bracing series for 3-4 years at night to prevent relapse (cases may vary).
Here are some great ways to help raise awareness on World Clubfoot Day and support those in need:
- Participate in the World Clubfoot Virtual Family Fun Walk/Run a walk/run (https://www.clubfootsolutions.org/family-fun-walk-run-for-world-clubfoot-day-is-going-virtual/)
- Volunteer at an event
- Share your story
Audrey & Bear’s Clubfoot Awareness Line
As part of our goal to continue to raise awareness in 2020, we chose to focus on clubfoot. You will read more about an inspirational woman below by the name of Kelsey McHargue and her son, Graham. Kelsey is a friend of Rachel Quarnberg’s and she is the “why” behind our launch.
Clubfoot awareness is depicted by the half blue and half pink ribbon. We worked as a team to come up with what we think is a simple, yet powerful design. It is our hope that when you see our Audrey & Bear blue and pink ribbon designs, you will associate it with clubfoot awareness.
As with any of our Audrey & Bears designs, you can personalize and customize our clubfoot designs so that it is perfect for the recipient.
Take a look at our new Clubfoot Awareness Line design!
Audrey & Bear Clubfoot Highlight: Kelsey McHargue
My son Graham was born with one of the world’s most common birth defects, club feet. My husband and I were quite shocked; we didn’t know anything about club feet and were surprised that such a diagnosis was missed during the 20 week ultrasound.
When Graham was 2 weeks old we started treatment to straighten his feet using the Ponseti method. The Doctor uses plaster casts to stretch the tendons in his feet. The baby wears each cast for about 1 week slowly stretching those tight tendons.
This process was difficult. Generally, when your newborn baby cries you have a pretty small list of what’s wrong and how to make them feel better. It felt like Graham had a much longer list.
I felt like I never knew what was wrong. Is he crying because he’s in pain from the cast, having trouble passing gas because he can’t kick his legs, or just crying because he was hungry. Graham wore 5 different casts, the last cast he wore for 3 weeks after going through an Achilles lengthening procedure.
Most children who are treated with the Ponseti method still have abnormally tight Achilles tendons, so this procedure is done to lengthen that tendon and give the baby even more mobility in their feet.
Once we graduated from casting, Graham was fitted with special shoes that he would wear with a bar between his legs 23 hours a day with 1 hour of free time for the next 3 months. 1 hour doesn’t seem like much but I hadn't seen his little feet for more than a few mins for the last 2 months, so at this point we were thrilled.
Today Graham is 2.5 years old and still wears his boots and bar 12 hours at night. We will continue this course of treatment until he is around 4 years old. Casting may have fixed my son's feet but without those boots at night, my son has a 90% chance of relapse.
If there is anything I want people to know or do when it comes to club feet, it is to look out for those parents who have a club foot child. The parents who have a baby with a plaster cast up to their hips, or have a child wearing funny shoes.
If you see a parent like this, tell them they’re doing a good job. They’ve had a hard first year, and the reason their child is going to live without a lifelong disability is because of them. They deserve to hear that. These Club foot cuties are patient and special children.