On 3 June the children’s orthopaedic and physiotherapy departments at the Royal Free London hosted a party to celebrate the success of Ponseti treatment for clubfoot, coinciding with world clubfoot day.

The party was held for families of children treated at the RFL for congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV), also known as club foot.

CTEV is a condition where a baby is born with the feet pointing downwards and turning inwards. When a baby is born with CTEV it is extremely difficult to realign the foot, however Ponseti treatment can offer a solution with minimal surgery. The Royal Free Hospital is one of several specialist centres in London to offer the treatment which has proven to be highly successful, with 98% of patients’ feet corrected by following the programme.

The Ponseti treatment involves applying a plaster cast each week to the baby’s legs and feet from two weeks old, with it usually taking four to five plasters to correct the turn-in of the foot. The plaster effectively stops the legs from moving and allows the baby’s muscles to relax and stretch in a lengthened position.

The course of plasters is followed by a cut of the Achilles tendon which is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon under local anaesthetic. Once the legs are in a corrected position the feet are placed in special boots which are attached to a bar for 23 hours a day for three months, then at night-time and naptime until five years of age.

Nikki Shack, clinical specialist paediatric physiotherapist at the Royal Free Hospital, said: “The party is being held to celebrate international clubfoot day and is a great way to get families together who are following the Ponseti programme. Today is a fantastic opportunity to see our patients in a non-hospital setting. It’s an opportunity for parents to get together and chat, see how well the children are progressing, swap tips and reassure each other.”

The Royal Free London provides antenatal appointments for parents who are carrying a baby diagnosed with CETV which prepare them for what to expect once the baby is born.

Nira Thurlbeck, mother of a baby being treated at the Royal Free Hospital, said: “The most crucial part of the treatment was my meetings with the hospital while I was pregnant. I felt extremely informed and am very satisfied with the care that my daughter Isabella has received.”

Charlene Ellis, mother of Jahmai who is being treated at the Royal Free Hospital, said: “It is brilliant to come here. Jahmai had atypical club foot and was one of the more complex patients. In the early stages I thought the worst.

“He started the plaster cast around two weeks old and then moved to the boots when he was three months. That was the hardest, because he had to keep them on for 23 hours a day, but the care we received was fantastic. The team were there for me every step of the way, and I never once felt that I was going through this alone.”

Image: Nira Thurlbell and her daughter Isobel, who is being treated at the Royal Free Hospital

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About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London.