When we first realized that we had accepted a child that not only had spina bifida, but also club feet, I immediately began to search for information on correcting her feet. Of course, we weren't sure if she would ever walk regardless and correcting her feet would be a moot point. But just in case, I wanted to be prepared. Of course, once we got our hands on her, we realized fast that our girl is going to walk one day!
During my research I came across a non-surgical method for correction call the Ponseti Method. It was created by Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, a native of Spain, who has been practicing at the University of Iowa since 1944. His technique uses a series of casts, followed by a brace to correct club feet. Dr. Ponseti is still practicing at the ripe ole age of 94 and actually looked at emailed pictures of Claire's feet and let us know that she does, in fact, have club feet and they can be corrected using his method. I was also able to find out during my research that a few other doctors, who were trained by Dr. Ponseti, are very successful at treating older children and children with spina bifida. Unfortunately, the doctors here in Charleston are not so experienced in the Ponseti method or with correction of older children. Most children have their club feet corrected with a few months of life and therefore, Claire is considered an "older child" in terms of correcting her feet. We also know that surgical correction can cause muscle weakness and possibly pain later in life. Claire already has muscle weakness and we do not want to do anything that might prohibit her chances of walking! So, we applied to the Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri to have Dr. Matthew Dobbs correct Claire's club feet. Dr. Dobbs is considered one of the top Ponseti doctors in the country, under Dr. Ponseti himself, so we feel very confident that he knows what he is doing. He also works at a hospital that specializes in treatment of children with spina bifida, so were pretty sure that issue is something he has dealt with too. Yes, that is a long drive from Charleston, SC. But it is one we are willing to make if it means that our Claire will get to walk one day!
We got word on Thursday that Claire was accepted! They actually wanted us to be there today but that was not a possibility so they gave us a second choice...June 23rd! So, this weekend we will drive to St. Louis for Claire's first casting! We will stay in the Midwest until the following week so we can have her 2nd casts put on and return to Charleston the first week in July. At that point, she will have at least 2 weeks before she goes back for another set of casts. We are very excited for Claire that this is going to happen so soon! She will be walking on straight feet before we know it! Feel free to join us on this journey too!