Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Foot Club

This is why I always reinforce Jeremiah's casts with fiberglass!
Yeah, it's a pun.  As people who follow this blog know, I have a special interest in treating kids with clubfoot, (technically called "congenital talipes equinovarus").  These kids are treated by the "Ponseti Method", which involves stretching the ligaments in their feet, and applying casts.  The procedure is done weekly for several weeks, and then is usually followed by a simple operation to lengthen their Achilles tendons.

Seeing the kids over and over weekly allows me to develop more of a relationship with them than with most patients.  Most don't come to love me as much as I love them, however!

Some members of Dr. Andy's Foot Club
Lately I've had several older kids (treatment started after the age of 24 months is called "neglected clubfoot" and is usually more difficult than when you start younger.  One is Jeremiah.  He is five years old, and is not at all afraid of me nor of the power cast cutter that I have to use to remove his casts each week.

This past week, because of a heavy work load, I asked him to skip a week, and come back after 2 weeks.  This gave him extra time to destroy his casts.  He usually crawls around in the dirt and rocks, but this time has obviously been in some serious mud.  For kids who are big enough to crawl, I always reinforce the plaster casts with fiberglass.  Just imagine what these casts would be like if they were only plaster!

Feet are pointed down, turned under, twisted at the center

People here rarely have the opportunity to develop friendships outside their own or neighboring clans.  The families that gather every week outside the orthopedic room for my clubfoot clinic, have a lot in common in their children.  They get to know each other, they sometimes helps with holding kids, giving advice, etc.

The talipes work is one of the most rewarding parts of my life here.  You've seen this in some of the older posts, like this one.  Seeing a child who could only look forward to a life of disability and exclusion from a normal life be able to return to normal in just a few weeks provides a special feeling.  And for most of these kids, the contrast is really that great.  With untreated clubfoot, they are marginalized, unable to participate in many normal activities.  After treatment they usually can live and function normally.

No comments:

Post a Comment