There is a remarkable effort going into Bangladesh to help children who are born with club foot through an organisation called Walk for Life. Clubfoot is a disability that can be discovered before a child is born in 1st world nations around the world and treatment can commence shortly after a child is born. Unfortunately, in 3rd world nations like Bangladesh, club foot deformity in children’s feet can be accepted as a disability and many parents are unaware that by treating their child before reaching the age of 3, a child can be completely cured of this disability. It is estimated that over 5,000 babies a year are born with clubfoot in the heavily populated country of Bangladesh. With this deformity, a child who is untreated grows up to a life of extreme poverty without the ability to walk and function in life normally.
Walk for Life is a charity that has been going into Bangladesh since 2011 to set up clinics who can provide FREE treatment for children before they reach their first birthday. It is working with the government of Bangladesh to train the medicine practices to provide this treatment. The treatment being implemented is called the Ponseti method, developed in the early 1960’s by Dr. Ignacio Ponseti at the University Of Iowa School Of Medicine. The Ponseti technique is accurate manual correction of the developing foot anatomy which allows the tight ‘clubfoot ligaments to stretch and lengthen. This process of ‘stretch’ (by hand) and ‘hold’ (by casts) is gentle and sequential; gradually shifting the foot bones to the correct positions. The tendency of the clubfoot to relapse or ‘spring back’ needs to be appreciated and is the reason for the very necessary maintenance bracing phase – arguably the most important part of the process.
The Ponseti technique consist of three sequential stages:
- manipulation and casting (up to 4-6 weeks)
- a small procedure to lengthen the Achilles tendon (heals in a ‘rest cast’ for 3 weeks)
- a brace (boots and bar) to maintain correction with growth (to age 4-5 years)
All time frames are approximate as individually cases do vary.
Many studies have shown that when applied correctly, the Ponseti technique can achieve correction of the clubfoot deformity in over 90% of cases. These outcomes have seen the Ponseti method become the treatment of choice for clubfoot by all medical and health professionals involved in clubfoot correction around the world.
Walk for Life is training doctors, nurses and physiotherapists to treat clubfoot deformity in babies and young children using the best practice Ponseti method in Government Hospitals. Orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists and physiotherapists from USA, Australia and the UK join with skilled practitioners in Bangladesh to provide education and training. Over 17,000 children have been helped so far in Bangladesh through Walk for Life's efforts.
Walk for Life provides education and training in the treatment of clubfoot at the only medical university in Bangladesh. As part of this agreement our volunteers regularly visit Bangladesh to train local students and staff to evaluate the outcomes.
You can donate as well to help this amazing cause! Just $120 can help a child walk, play and run normally and make a difference throughout their life!!
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