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Today, (Friday 3 June) Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust’s Children’s Orthopaedic and Physiotherapy departments have hosted a special event, to tie in with World Clubfoot Day.

The event saw around 50 parents and children attend Maidstone Birth Centre to meet one another and celebrate the success of Ponseti treatment for Clubfoot (or Congenital Talipes Equinovarus, CTEV).

The Ponseti International Association (PIA) designated 3 June to celebrate World Clubfoot Day as it commemorates the birth date of Dr Ignacio Ponseti, the developer of the Ponseti Method to treat the condition.

Clubfoot is the most common musculoskeletal birth deformity, and affects one in 1000 babies. The Ponseti Method is nearly 100 per cent effective when properly applied by a trained health care provider and allows the baby affected to go on to lead a normal, productive life.

Clubfoot, or CTEV, is a condition where a baby is born with its feet pointing downwards and turning inwards. When a baby is born with Clubfoot it is extremely difficult to realign the foot, however Ponseti treatment can offer a solution with minimal surgery.

At Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (MTW), the treatment of Clubfoot by the Ponseti Method has been offered since 2003 and is now a fully established, specialist service offered to patients. It is a consultant-led, physiotherapy-run service which has a dedicated team of specialist staff and is one of a number of specialist centres in UK.

In addition to local patients, children from surrounding areas, including Medway, Dartford, and Hastings (and further afield) come to MTW for treatment. The team consists of two Paediatric Orthopaedic Consultants and six Specialist Physiotherapists from MTW and Medway.

The Ponseti treatment itself involves applying a plaster cast each week to a baby’s legs and feet from as soon after birth as possible. It usually takes taking four to five plasters to correct the deformity of the foot. The plaster effectively stops the legs from moving and allows the baby’s muscles to relax and stretch in a lengthened position. A small operation to cut the Achilles tendon is required and is carried out under local anaesthetic. Once the baby’s legs are in a corrected position, the feet are placed in a special boots and bar device for 23 hours a day for three months, then at night-time and nap-time until five years of age.
MTW provides antenatal appointments for parents who are carrying a baby diagnosed with Clubfoot, which prepare them for what to expect once the baby is born.

Shubhra Kamat, Lead Extended Scope Practitioner Paediatric Orthopaedic Physiotherapist for MTW, said: “Today was a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to meet one another to talk about their common experiences, as well as celebrate this great method of treatment for Clubfoot.

“Although the treatment happens over a long period of time, it is not invasive other than one small procedure, and babies and children grow up completely used to wearing the boots and bar device, so it’s not stressful for them.

“However, we understand that there can be a lot of anxiety for parents, especially when a baby is diagnosed with the condition, before birth or after, so we try very hard to make sure they feel supported and informed at all times. I think this event was a fantastic way to move that support network forward even further. We thoroughly enjoyed having everyone here today, it was a very positive event.”