STEPS TO SUC­CESS

Your Baby & Toddler - - REAL LIFE -

When Karen Moss’ son was born with club foot, lead­ing her to seek cut­ting-edge treat­ment for him in the USA, no­body knew this would have a knock-on ef­fect that would help re­shape the lives of chil­dren born with club foot, first all over South Africa and then even in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries! Steps (steps.org.za) is a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion es­tab­lished 14 years ago to im­prove the lives of chil­dren born with club foot.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion works with club-foot clin­ics in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Tan­za­nia and the Sey­chelles, and pro­vides in­for­ma­tion and sup­port to par­ents across

South­ern and East Africa. They focus on train­ing, clinic sup­port, ad­vo­cacy, and pro­vid­ing braces to chil­dren who need them. Steps sup­ports and part­ners with 29 club-foot clin­ics in South Africa and men­tors var­i­ous club­foot clin­ics and or­gan­i­sa­tions in the re­gion. In Jo­han­nes­burg, Chris Hani Barag­wanath’s work­shop in Soweto pro­duces 50 to 60 of th­ese braces a month to sus­tain suc­cess­ful treat­ment.

WHAT IS CLUB FOOT?

Club foot is a con­di­tion present at birth. The cause is un­known but is thought to be due to ge­netic and en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors. It can run in families, and twice as many boys as girls have club foot. One or both feet point in­ward and down. The foot is rigid and can­not be pushed back to the cor­rect po­si­tion. Club foot is a com­mon birth de­fect that af­fects about 2 000 chil­dren in South Africa an­nu­ally. With early in­ter­ven­tion, club foot is treat­able. Un­treated club foot causes per­ma­nent dis­abil­ity, and the child can­not wear shoes.

THE PON­SETI METHOD

Named af­ter the doc­tor who pi­o­neered the pro­ce­dure, the Pon­seti method has be­come the in­ter­na­tional gold stan­dard for treat­ing club foot. It is a non-sur­gi­cal process in­volv­ing weekly casts over four to six weeks, fol­lowed by the wear­ing of a foot-ab­duc­tion brace at night and dur­ing naps un­til age four or five that helps to main­tain the cor­rected po­si­tion of the foot. Treat­ment should be­gin early in life while the bones are softer and more malleable.

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