Tygerberg Hospital celebrates World Clubfoot Day
World Clubfoot Day is commemorated on 3 June. Clubfoot is a treatable birth defect. Early detection and treatment are essential to prevent the child growing up with a disability. Children with untreated clubfoot cannot wear shoes or walk properly. There is a solution with the Ponseti Method that is the globally recognised best practice, and offered at the Tygerberg Hospital Clubfoot Clinic.
The Ponseti method is in two phases. The correction phase requires weekly clinic visits for one to two months, followed by the maintenance phase which requires the patient to wear a brace at night to maintain the correction and prevent recurrence until age 4. The second phase is primarily the responsibility of parents and caregivers, and they need support and encouragement to keep going until the end of treatment. The partnership between Tygerberg Hospital and Steps Charity NPC since 2013 helps to increase adherence to the four-year treatment with patient-centred support provided from Steps such as parent education and support, take-home leaflets, and educational videos. World Clubfoot Day on 3 June celebrates the success of the Ponseti method and the hundreds of thousands of children who have benefited from it. Clubfoot affects about 1:750 newborns, but the South African incidence is higher, estimated around 1:500, which is at least 2 000 new cases annually.
Sherwin Tromp, a four-year-old born with bilateral clubfoot who lives an hour away from the clinic, is celebrating his graduation from treatment at Tygerberg Hospital.
His mother, Valerie, said: ‘I found out that my son had clubfoot at my scan. I had heard of it as my friend’s son had been born with it a few years before. When I was pregnant, they made an appointment for me to come to the Tygerberg clubfoot clinic after my son was born. So, I came with my son when he was 2 weeks old. The first appointment was good; I was told everything about clubfoot and how it would be corrected. It was not scary, everyone makes you feel welcome and helps you through it, even the other mums. We appreciate everything that the clubfoot clinic has done for our child, we are so thankful. If it was not for the clubfoot clinic, we honestly do not know what we would have done.’
Sherwin received his graduation certificate from Steps to commemorate this important milestone that is a testament to the commitment it has taken from him and his family to complete the maintenance phase of night-time brace wear. Proud mom Valerie’s advice to other families: ‘Make sure that you take your child to the clubfoot clinic, you will be thankful like our family. I spread the word and have given the number to many people in my community.’
Ndalwentle Makoko will celebrate his fifth birthday in August. He lives in Khayelitsha and his visits to the clubfoot clinic at Tygerberg Hospital take about an hour each way. He also received his graduation certificate recently, and his happy mom, Philiswa, said: ‘When he was born with clubfoot, I was shocked and scared about my son’s future. The treatment is now completed, and I could not be happier; my son can play just like all the other children. We love the graduation certificate. We made it to the end of the journey.’
Sherwin and Ndalwentle are testament to the fact that clubfoot is treatable with early effective intervention and consistent support of families and caregivers.