Approximately one child out of every 1,000 worldwide are born each year with clubfoot, a birth defect that causes one or both feet to be twisted. The good news is that as long as these children are treated well, they should not have any long-term limitations.
Sue Laham, director of the clubfoot program at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and one of three active providers in the state certified in the Ponseti method, explains how clubfoot can be treated.
Clubfoot is a condition that causes one or both feet to twist in and down at birth. The child won't notice any pain until they start standing or walking, but if it isn't treated before then it will be nearly impossible to walk normally.
Fortunately, advancements in ultrasound technology can identify clubfoot in infants as early as 20 weeks into the pregnancy. When clubfoot is detected early, families can discuss treatment options to help the baby's feet grow straight and normal. The most effective and popular treatment method is with a cast called the Ponseti method.
The Ponseti method is a combination of casting and heel-cord lengthening. Babies will start wearing a tiny cast around their legs at 2-3 weeks of age, and the casts will change every week for two months. After the last cast has been removed, babies need to wear braces at night for the next four years of their life.
Laham says that Ponseti method is the "gold standard" of treatment for clubfoot because it's the most effective. As long as the family is compliant with the bracing, the child shouldn't have any complications once the treatment is over.
If families aren't consistent with the bracing, there's a big chance that clubfoot will return, resulting in more casts and larger surgeries.
This treatment and so much more is available from the nationally-recognized pediatric orthopedics team at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
For more information on the Ponseti method or clubfoot, call (616)-267-2600 or visit helendevoschildrens.org/orthopedics.
Watch the full interview here.