Michael Flynn, Chair
miraclefeet is dedicated to eliminating clubfoot as a permanent childhood physical disability worldwide by providing proper treatment for every child born with a clubfoot in a developing country.
miraclefeet partners with orthopedic surgeon leaders, private and government health systems, other international organizations and individuals to treat clubfoot children and help establish sustainable, national clubfoot treatment networks. As part of its work, miraclefeet works in partnership with Ponseti International Association to help provide proper medical training to surgeons and paramedical personnel, and has developed an evidenced based, best practices model for establishing and managing sustainable national treatment programs.
One out of every 750 children born worldwide are born with clubfoot – about one child every three minutes. Over one million children in the world live with untreated clubfoot. Clubfoot is the single most common congenital birth defect and it causes one or both feet to turn inward and downward. Without proper treatment, many of these children walk only with great difficulty, making clubfoot one of the leading causes of permanent disability in the world. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. With treatment children born with clubfoot can live normal lives, running, playing and becoming productive members of their communities.
Facts About Clubfoot
- A clubfoot occurs when the muscles, tendons and ligaments supporting the feet are contracted or shortened, causing the bones in the foot to be abnormally aligned. Curved and pointed inward, usually, only the outer edge of the foot can touch the ground, making it impossible to walk.
- The cause of clubfoot is unknown, occurring in about 1 in every 750 births worldwide.
- 66% boys – 33% girls
- 50% one foot – 50% both feet
The majority of children born with clubfoot in the developing world have little access to treatment and no financial resources. Historically, clubfoot was treated with complicated orthopedic surgery. In addition to being expensive and difficult on children, surgery has very poor results. However, the Ponseti Method, a very effective, non-surgical treatment, now makes it possible to address the issue of clubfoot inexpensively on a global scale.
The Ponseti Method involves a series of simple, properly applied plaster casts which are changed weekly. In 95% of cases, this results in gradual change to full correction of the foot in 4-6 weeks. Following casting, a simple brace is worn at night to prevent relapse. Ideally, treatment starts within weeks of birth, but children as old as 16 have been successfully treated using the Ponseti Method.
Even though the Ponseti Method is relatively easy to teach and requires minimal equipment and supplies making it ideal for the developing world, it is still not readily available in most of the world.
miraclefeet can fully treat a child with clubfoot in developing nations for about $250 per child.
Facts About the Ponseti Method
- Endorsed by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons and most all international professional medical association.
- Studies show that if non-surgical treatment is begun before the age of 2 years, a 95% effective rate of correction can be achieved.
- Casts are changed during weekly clinic visits until the child is ready for a simple procedure call a tenotomy, usually within 4-6 weeks.
- After the last cast, the child is placed in Foot Abduction Braces (shoes attached to a metal bar maintaining proper foot alignment) which he or she wears during sleeping hours for 2-3 years.
The miraclefeet Approach
miraclefeet works with in-country orthopedic surgeon leaders, the Ministry of Health and other healthcare organizations to help establish a national clubfoot program. The goal is to develop a geographic network of local treatment clinics, making clubfoot treatment accessible to all families. miraclefeet works to ensure that treatment is provided at participating clinics at no charge to patients, and that each participating clinic receives all supplies necessary to provide free care.
miraclefeet launched its first project in a low-income area of Sao Paulo, Brazil in October 2010. Since that start, miraclefeet has helped start an additional program in Belo Horizonte, Brazil as well as programs in Mexico, Nicaragua and Mumbai India. Through these programs, miraclefeet expects to treat over 500 children in 2012. With sufficient support, miraclefeet plans to expand to treat over 10,000 children a year within the next 5 years. Countries currently waiting funding include Ecuador, Peru, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Thailand.
miraclefeet was created in 2008 by a group of concerned parents of clubfoot children and orthopaedic surgeons who wanted to ensure that all children born with clubfoot had access to proper treatment. Today it has a very active Board of Directors which includes business leaders, concerned parents and world recognized medical authorities. miraclefeet also has established a formal Medical Advisory Board composed of leading worldwide clubfoot experts. miraclefeet is the only organization solely dedicated to treating children born with clubfoot on a global scale.
Case Story of Alan in Sao Paulo
Alan is two years old and lives in a children's home in Sao Paulo. He was removed from his parents' home because of his mother and father's drug addiction. Luckily, the staff at his orphanage are very attentive and concerned with his treatment because they know it is vital for his chances for adoption.
Alan is two years old, but had never received treatment before this age. He had originally been on a waiting list for surgery before he became a patient at Dr. Laura's clinic. Each week, a different staff member brings him to Dr. Laura's clinic at Hospital Universitario, where his treatment is going very well. Dr. Laura and the staff at the children's home are all very hopeful about his treatment and adoption!