About 2 000 children are born with clubfoot every year in South Africa, according to Steps, a non-profit organisation helping children with the condition.
Each year, Tygerberg Hospital treats more than 1 000 paediatric orthopaedic cases, of which 130 patients are clubfoot.
Professor Jacques du Toit, head of orthopaedic surgery at Tygerberg, said many people did not realise that clubfoot could be treated to prevent disability.
“The Ponseti method is over 95% effective when properly applied by a trained health-care provider.
“It is internationally considered as the gold standard of treatment, enabling previous clubfoot sufferers to lead a normal and productive life,” he said.
Sheena and Ryan Kotze, from Kraaifontein, faced uncertainty when their son, Damian, was born with clubfoot.
Damian was referred to the Tygerberg Hospital Clubfoot Clinic, where he underwent weekly assessment, manipulation and plaster casts. After eight weeks, Damian was ready for an Achilles tenotomy – a non-invasive surgical procedure that can be done in the clinic with local anaesthetic.
“Damian is a very content and friendly baby. We are extremely proud of how well he has handled the clubfoot treatment. We are also thankful for the great work done by the team at the Tygerberg Hospital Clubfoot Clinic and Steps,” said Ms Kotze.
“Damian sleeps in the provided treatment boots and bar every night, and his feet are looking fantastic. The Steps parent adviser is an added benefit and assists us weekly. We are thankful for the adviser’s support and patience in answering our questions,” said Mr Kotze.
To accommodate parents, the clinic created a family room, furnished with seating and child-friendly toys, where families meet regularly to discuss challenges and give each other support.
“Having this space to share your experiences, both good and challenging, with other families and the clinic’s staff, has made what was initially a terrifying event much easier to handle,” said Mr Kotze.
Damian is now 20 months old, and his parents are relieved their son is walking and playing without any problems.
“Damian has regular check-ups at the clinic, but we are exceptionally happy with his progress,” said Ms Kotze.
Steps’ founder Karen Moss’s son was born with clubfoot in 2003. The solution Ms Moss found was Dr Ignacio Ponseti, an 89-year-old Spanish orthopaedic surgeon in Iowa, America who had been successfully using a non-invasive method he developed, the Ponseti Method, for five decades.
The Moss family went to Iowa for treatment, and within three weeks, Ms Moss’s son’s feet had been treated successfully.
Founded in 2005, Steps has trained more than 400 medical professionals in the Ponseti method.
More than 9 000 children have benefited from the Ponseti method since 2005.