Of the estimated 200,000 babies born with clubfoot a year, more than 80% live in the developing world, and most of these babies are left untreated or receive inadequate care. ALTSO’s programs use the minimally-invasive and 95% effective Ponseti technique to straighten the feet of patients at an average cost of less than $200. The brace that is used to prevent reoccurrence is only $25.
Clubfoot is a congenital foot deformity characterized by feet turned inward and sometimes backward, which is caused by abnormal development of the muscles, tendons and bones in the foot while the fetus is forming during pregnancy.
THE PONSETI TECHNIQUE OF CLUBFOOT CORRECTION
The Ponseti method of clubfoot correction was developed over 50 years ago by Dr. Ignacio Ponseti. It involves a minimally invasive surgical procedure to release the tendon, followed by a series of gentle manual manipulations of the child’s foot, the application of plaster casts to retain the degree of correction and soften the ligaments, and bracing to avoid recurrence. The Ponseti technique is effective in 95% of clubfoot cases and is rapidly becoming recognized as the least invasive and most economic method of clubfoot correction. This technique is the most highly recommended technique for the developing world because of its cost-efficiency, effectiveness, and ability to be taught to a wide range of health care providers, including therapists and orthopedic assistants.
SURGICAL CORRECTION OF CLUBFOOT
Neglected clubfoot occurs when the deformity is not promptly diagnosed and corrected appropriately; the Ponseti technique should only be used until the age of 2. Because few developing countries have either screening or treatment programs, neglected clubfoot is one of the most common causes of physical disability in the developing world. The only treatment available to a patient with neglected clubfoot is surgical, which is more expensive and less effective.