Clubfoot is the most common birth defect in the world, affecting 200,000 newborn children each year, 80 percent in developing countries. There are also hundreds of thousands of children and young adults who are living with this debilitating condition worldwide. World Clubfoot Day is celebrated annually on June 3 which is the birthdate of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti.
This day is of significance in our household since my first son was born with a right clubfoot (his journey is here). This day serves as a reminder of my gratitude to Dr. Ponseti and my son’s orthopaedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital who made successful treatment possible. Knowing that nearly one million children suffer from a neglected (untreated) clubfoot deformity under the age of 14 makes me even more appreciative of our access to health care and trained professionals.
I still remember the worry and confusion when my husband and I first learned about Eli’s birth defect – clubfoot. Our unfamiliarity with clubfoot propelled us to search the internet for answers. Like any parents, we were concerned about finding the best treatment possible to help our child. We learned about clubfoot and all the possible treatments and one name kept coming up over and over – Ponseti. The Ponseti Method to us meant hope.
Eli had six casts and a tenotomy and now 2.5 years later he is very active. He still wears his Ponseti boots and bar every night and will continue to do so until he is at least 4 years old. We return to Children’s Hospital every 6 months for his check-ups. His clubfoot treatment continues to be successful.
Eli is a walking, running, jumping testament to the Ponseti method of treatment. He has not let his brace slow him down much, if at all. There is an unexplainable feeling of genuine joy seeing him live an active lifestyle – although he climbs, jumps, and hangs on just about everything and it drives me bananas – my inner self rejoices and then I remind him that our stairway banister is not for climbing or his baby brother is not for jumping over.
Eli has a special place in our hearts after all the treatment and worry we went through those early months of his life. He is an inspiration to us. I hope our experience can provide awareness and comfort to someone else searching for answers. Please feel free to leave a comment with any questions!
**Since this post was published, Eli graduated from wearing his Ponsetti boots and bar (check our more recent clubfoot post here). He continues to see his doctor every 4 months to check for relapse. World Clubfoot Day continues to be an important day in our household – clubfoot awareness is near and dear to my heart.