Talipes / Clubfoot
At my 20 week scan, my baby was diagnosed with bilateral talipes, I was also told that I was having a little girl. In the car on the way home we chose our little girl’s name Charlotte, my husband was devastated, he knew the realities of the treatment she would receive as he had also been born with talipes. We were referred to neo-natal surgeon who gave us information on the treatment that Charlotte would need. Her birth, 26th September 2004, was amazing she was beautiful, it wasn’t until a couple of minutes later that I looked at her feet, I remember feeling relief and confirmation of what I had seen on the scan, she was here at long last, our little girl!
At 5 days old we went to Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital (RACH) for Charlotte’s first appointment, Our consultant at the time discussed the best way to treat Charlotte’s feet was a method of applying a number of plaster casts changed on a weekly basis, this method is known as the Ponseti Method. Charlotte had her first set of many casts applied. I found this quite distressing, Charlotte screamed the whole time when the cast was applied, although I understood how desperately she needed this treatment I felt guilty for putting her through it. Every week we would go through the same routine of having the casts removed and reapplied she screamed through the whole time, and would fall asleep immediately after.
On the 20th January 2005, Charlotte had a small operation called a tenotomy. This was to stretch her Achilles tendon, to bring her heel down. The operation was carried out under general anaesthetic and we stayed overnight at the hospital, Charlotte was a little sore for a couple of days but was quickly back to normal. After the operation Charlotte was back into casts for 6 weeks then hopefully she would be into the Mitchell Boots. However, things didn’t go to plan, due to shape and size of Charlotte’s feet we couldn’t keep her in the boots. I was left feeling very disheartened at this point was all this treatment going to be worth it in the end?
So Charlotte went back into casts until her feet grew. By June, Charlotte was still in casts and her feet had relapsed. I found it very difficult around this time, I was exhausted from travelling up and down to the hospital as Charlotte has proved to be quite a Houdini in her casts, if they weren’t slipping then she was busy smashing them to pieces! Charlotte was getting older and was crawling and trying to stand she was becoming frustrated and less tolerant of the casts, Charlotte would become very distressed during the night, so I was desperately in need some sleep too!
At the beginning of June 2005 it was decided that she needed further surgery on both feet. Charlotte’s second operation was soft tissue releases to both feet, and lengthening to her Achilles tendons, this was performed under general anaesthetic. After the operation Charlotte was back into casts for 6 weeks. By this time it was mid-August when Charlotte came out of her casts and into Mitchell Boots (boots with a bar), this was a big relief.
For the first 3 months Charlotte had to wear the boots, 23 hours a day. To start with it took some practice in putting the boots on and making sure that the heel was down, and that the boots were tight enough, to prevent them slipping. During the day Charlotte would quite happily crawl around in them. I would take the boots off at breakfast and dinner time and allow her some freedom for half an hour this routine worked well. Charlotte would wear the boots at bedtime, but I would often find that she had taken them off, she would be sound asleep in her cot and I would be trying to put her boots back on in the dark and trying not to waking her up, there is quite an art to it! Initially, Charlotte was unsettled during the night wearing the boots, but after a week or so her sleeping settled down.
charlotte_bootsBy December 2005, Charlotte was standing and trying to walk, so around this time we had our 1st appointment with the Orthotics Department in Aberdeen, to supply Charlotte’s footwear, initially Charlotte was fitted with Piedro Boots and insoles. Due to the width of Charlotte’s feet we were unable to find ‘high street’ shoes to fit and give the amount of support required. Charlotte was fitted with pink girly orthopaedic boots. She was walking and running by the time she was 15 months.
In April 2008, it was decided that Charlotte needed further surgery on her left foot to try and straighten it, a tendon transfer operation was performed. Charlotte coped well with the operation, we talked to her before and prepared her, Charlotte spent 6 weeks in a cast after the operation. Charlotte’s foot was much straighter after the operation, and after 4 years and 3 operations, we finally could go Clark’s and buy Charlotte, the ‘Light-Up’ shoes she had always wanted.
After 4 years of treatment I look back and it has all been worth it. Charlotte has been unaffected by the treatment, her scars from her surgery have faded a lot and are now becoming unnoticeable she is confident and outgoing she will talk about her operations on her feet, and her friends see her as no different from themselves.
Charlotte is one of the most determined children you will ever meet, she is amazing! I feel that we would not be where we are today without the 1st class treatment we have received from the staff at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital. Although it was hard at times it has been worth it, Charlotte has pain free mobile feet !