03 January 2012
By Umesh Isalkar
Twenty weeks into her pregnancy, Dhankawadi resident Amruta found out during a routine sonography that her child would be born with a clubfoot. She was counseled that treatment could sort out the defect, but the expenses may run into lakhs — something she could not afford. However, thanks to the joint initiative of an international NGO, the baby (who is now three months old) has been enrolled for free treatment at the Bharati Hospital and given specially designed shoes to correct the birth defect.
The Bharati Vidyapeeth Hospital in Dhankawadi has become one of the nine centres in Maharashtra, where a child with a clubfoot can get free treatment irrespective of the parents’ financial condition.
“The Bharati Hospital received a proposal to start a clubfoot clinic some two months ago. The centre became functional in the last week of November. The hospital will now provide the space, medical support and drugs, while the NGO Cure International will provide the awareness materials in the vernacular language, appoint counselors and give calipers free of cost,” said paediatrician Sanjay Lalwani, medical director of the hospital. The hospital’s department of paediatrics is a tertiary referral centre for the adjoining districts.
In the last one and half months, the hospital clubfoot clinic has enrolled eight babies. “Half of them are from Pune district and the others from adjoining districts like Ahmednagar, Aurangabad and Satara,” said Lalwani.
Usually, the diagnosis of clubfoot is done during the routine sonography of pregnant women. Those cases in which sonography is not conducted, it gets diagnosed at birth as the deformity is very apparent.
“Usually, soon after the diagnosis, an orthopaedic surgeon’s expertise is sought and sequential plastering of the deformed foot is done once in three weeks. This technique is known as Ponseti technique. Once the foot is corrected with the help of plastering and brought to normal shape and posture, calipers are used to keep the foot in the corrected posture till the baby starts walking,” Lalwani said.Ponseti method
The Ponseti method for clubfoot uses casting and gentle manipulation for the treatment of clubfoot. It is over 95% effective. Developed over 50 years ago by Dr Ponseti, this method has received recognition by some of the top health care organisations like the National Institute of Health and the Mayo Clinic.