In India, 150 children are born with Clubfoot every day: Guess what? It has a non-surgical CURE!

Being one of the most common birth defects, India registers almost 50,000 cases of Clubfoot children every year.

iamin| Last Updated: Feb 15, 2016, 19:40 PM IST

Richa Taneja

New Delhi: Often mistaken as polio, one of most common birth deformity that plagues India’s children today is the ‘Clubfoot’. Twisted foot or teda paer, as it is generally referred to, a child with Clubfoot is unable to place the sole of the foot flat on the ground. If left untreated, it can lead to a lifetime of deformity.

Being one of the most common birth defects, India registers almost 50,000 cases of Clubfoot children every year. The question that stares us is - After becoming a polio-free nation, can India eradicate disability caused by Clubfoot too?

Santosh George, Director, Cure International India says, “Clubfoot is not a poor man or a rich man’s disease. It is a birth defect and can happen to anybody. Earlier, Clubfoot didn’t have a cure, the rich used to get it surgically operated. But today, the treatment is readily available free of cost.”

CURE International India, a national charitable healthcare NGO, is working in public-private partnership with state governments and donor agencies and making the treatment free and accessible for all.

Clubfoot is not genetic

clubfoot

The picture above is that of Ved Pal, resident of Palwal, his wife and two of three children. His younger daughter doesn’t have Clubfoot, but the elder one, Pinki (8) and youngest son, Harsh (3) have the deformity. While one may think that Clubfoot is genetic, it’s untrue. The reason behind clubfoot is to be ascertained. So far, there are only theories doing the rounds.

Pal says, “I had this defect since childhood and when I was to get married, I just saw my wife’s feet and agreed to marry her, I did not see her face or talked to her. I just knew she was the one.” He smiles.

Pal recalls that in their times, they were called with several cuss words and considered ‘abnormal’. There was no awareness on any treatment then. I and my wife face great difficulty walking, but when our two children were born with this defect, we were advised to come to Kalawati Saran Hospital in Delhi. “After coming here we realised that we were not the only ones struggling. There were thousands of children with clubfoot and were getting positive results through treatment. We couldn’t thank our good fortune enough and after getting medical care in this hospital, we are now sure that Pinki and Harsh will be living normal lives. We are more than grateful,” he beams.

Clubfoot can be prevented not averted, but definitely corrected

During 1950s, Spanish physician Ignacio Ponseti developed a non-surgical technique that uses a series of casts, followed by an abduction brace, to correct congenital Clubfoot. The corrective procedure, later popularised as Ponseti Method, has helped in curing thousands of children world-over. Ponseti method takes advantage of anatomy of foot joints movement and with specific way of casting, heals it naturally.

Here is a small video where Dr Alok Sud, Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon at Lady Hardinge Hospital, New Delhi, explains that Clubfoot is one of the most common congenital deformities and how it is completely curable through inexpensive Ponseti method.

What is Clubfoot? How can it be cured?

Dr Sud says, “While most of the deformities are curable, there are 10-20 per cent severe cases of deformities that cannot be corrected fully and the patient, in such cases, would need rehabilitation and proper guidance. We do not have any prevention for Clubfoot as it happens in the womb, inside the uterus. But yes, awareness and good maternal nutrition can help prevent it as it will have clear impact in the treatment of deformities.”

Overcoming parents’ anxiety

While a lot of anxious parents, detecting about their baby’s birth defect in the ultrasound, consider abortion, Dr Sud advises, “We first simply counsel them that none of the parents is responsible for this defect and when the child is brought early to the clinic, within a matter of 5-6 serial plasters, followed by wearing Foot Abduction Brace (FAB) till 4 years of age, the deformity can be corrected.”

“For first three months, FAB is worn 23 hours a day. One hour is kept aside for cleaning and washing. After three months, it’s worn only during the night as human bones grow during the night. The treatment needs to be followed up without a break. During this time period, the core team keeps on following up with the patients until the problem is fully rectified,” he adds.

Alem Cure, Co-ordinator, Cure International India, has been working relentlessly with parents for close to a decade now. From caressing cranky crying babies to counselling nervous parents, constant follow-ups and handling emergency cases, Alem has always been on her toes. She says “Yes, it’s a lot of hardwork, persuasion and perseverance, but towards the end, when a child gets treated and the joy I see on parent’s faces is what drives me to work every day.”

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Jamshed’s son Shariyan (3) is a shining example. Jamshed travels from Ladiapur in Faridabad every week to Delhi and has been religiously following the treatment - be it the plastering, massaging, changing of shoe to fit the size. Three years of his hard work has reaped off and happiness engulfs his face as he sees Shariyan walk.

Watch Alem explaining step by step treatment procedure and throwing light on the frequently asked questions:

Clubfoot cure - Step by step treatment explained

Cure International India Trust- Healing feet, saving lives

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In the past 6 years of its presence in India, CURE International India has been instrumental in treating more than 20,000 patients, the eldest being the case of a 22-year-old girl. With a team of over 1800 expert doctors who take free weekly check-ups in about 170 designated clubfoot clinics throughout India and a team of committed counsellors who provide one-on-one counselling or through helpline numbers, CURE International India is doing all it can to ensure that not even a single child remains untreated.

From keeping records and statistics to providing training and spreading awareness, CURE International India has shown immense commitment and is solely championing the cause.

Santosh George says, “On this mission we realised that while plastering cost isn’t high, it’s the cost of the shoe that pinched many parents. We thus decided to manufacture the shoe locally and make it available free-of-cost. What matters to us the most is that child is able to lead a disability-free healthy and happy life and we are devoted towards this cause.”

Here is the list of Clubfoot Clinics that you can contact and can also reach CURE International India here.