While people in America may not be familiar with clubfoot and the mobility challenges that it presents, the National Institute of Health reports that 1 in 1,000 children are born with this limiting disease. Clubfoot is a congenital foot deformity that is officially known as talipes equinovarus (TEV) or congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV). Sufferers often have a reduced quality of life without proper treatment.

What Are the Symptoms Clubfoot?

When an individual is born with clubfoot, there’s a 50% possibility that both feet will be affected. Clubfoot causes the foot to turn in on the ankle as a result of shortened interior tendons in the leg as well as malformed bones in the foot. Infants with clubfoot may look as though their foot is upside down. If only one foot is affected, one leg will appear to be noticeably shorter than the other one.

What Causes Clubfoot?

While the causes of clubfoot are still largely unknown, children born to parents who had clubfoot are more likely to be born with this congenital defect. If both parents have clubfoot, chances are even higher that the infant will inherit the disease. Sufferers may also have other skeletal deformities or abnormalities, and clubfoot is thought to be caused by a disruption in early development.

Treatments for Clubfoot

Clubfoot will not resolve itself without treatment, and treatment early in life provides the best outcome. Treatment generally involves multiple sessions of manual manipulation of the foot and careful casting to hold the foot and leg in the new position. This process can be repeated as many as 10 times and requires ongoing review and actions to maintain positive results and continue the improvement.

While clubfoot is one of the foot deformities that can cause significant challenges for mobility, the doctors and professionals at Mobility International are committed to helping individuals overseas who are suffering from this and other mobility-limiting diseases live life to the fullest.

Facts

Fact: 800 million persons with disabilities live in the Global South.  There, they are two times as likely than the general population to live under the poverty line and far less likely to attend primary school.

Fact: (UNICEF estimates just 5% of children with disabilities attend primary school worldwide), yet just 1% of foreign aid reaches persons with disabilities, in part because many international development initiatives are inaccessible to and exclusionary of persons with disabilities.

Fact: Around the world, 150 000 – 200 000 babies with clubfoot are born each year. Approximately 80% of these will be in low and middle income countries. Most of these babies will not receive effective treatment for their clubfoot and will grow up with severe disability as a consequence. 

Quotes

“MOI’s clubfoot programs reach patients in some of the most remote areas in the world. I have visited and participated in the training and surgical programs in Vietnam since 2017. With every trip the number of untreated patients with clubfeet and number of clubfoot relapses diminish. Patients who return after surgery are excited to share with us their ability to wear shoes, attend school and obtain work. I am so proud to be part of the successful MOI programs around the world that prevent and treat disabilities related to clubfoot.”

Maryse Bouchard, MD, MSc, FRCSC
Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon
Toronto, ON

“As a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who treats clubfoot, I am passionate about early intervention. Being able to successfully treat babies with clubfoot prevents the need for major reconstructive surgeries later in life and makes a huge difference in their quality of life, ability to access education and their productivity in their communities as adults. MOi is working hard contributing to the efforts to end clubfoot disabilities in Sierra Leone, Haiti, Vietnam where access to treatment is most limited.”

Laurel Saliman, MD
Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon
Seattle, WA

“Clubfoot, the most common congenital bone and joint deformity, is not going away. It affects at least 1 in 1,000 children around the world. Since 1995, the Ponseti method, originally developed by Dr. Ignacio Ponseti in the 1950’s, has been accepted as the safest and most effective way to reliably correct clubfoot deformities. It is a non-operative method that has almost universally replaced the traditional operative methods that resulted in long term disabilities in the affected children because their feet were stiff, painful, and often required additional surgery that led to more stiffness and pain. MOi and its volunteer orthopedic surgeon staff have been instrumental in teaching the Ponseti method to orthopedic surgeons in Sierra Leone, Haiti, and Vietnam. The MOi orthopedic surgeons also treat and teach local orthopedic surgeons in those countries to treat children with neglected and/or poorly treated clubfeet. Eliminating clubfoot through genetic engineering is on the horizon, but still far away. Till then, MOi’s mission and methods will remain invaluable internationally.”

Vincent S. Mosca, MD
Professor of Orthopedics, University of Washington.
Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon
Chief, Pediatric Foot and Ankle Service
Director, Pediatric Orthopedic Fellowship