Treating Clubfoot Is Made Easy & Affordable With The Help Of The IOWA Brace

13 August 2019
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Patient, family, and hospital personnel enjoy some laughs as the baby’s clubfoot is being manipulated and set in a cast

While rare in the USA, clubfoot continues to be a life-changing problem in the developing world. Of all the babies born with clubfoot, 80% of the cases occur in developing countries such as Guatemala. Clubfoot is an abnormality of the foot where either one or both feet are pointed inwards and downwards. The abnormality is caused due to shortened leg tendons, a tighter than normal Achilles tendon, and misshapen bones. Doctors still aren’t certain as to the cause of clubfoot, but thanks to the Ponseti Method, we now have a treatment method that boasts a 95% success rate!

Developed in the 1940s by Doctor Ignacio Ponseit of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the revolutionary Ponseti method is the preferred Clubfoot treatment method worldwide. This non-invasive and affordable treatment involves a combination of manipulations, castings, an Achilles tenotomy, as well as bracing to cure the deformity. 

23 hours a day for 3 consecutive months. As the child grows, subsequent braces are fitted and worn only at night for the next 3-4 years. 

Child is being fitted for the IOWA brace which he’ll wear for the next 4-5 years

The first visits require foot manipulations and a new cast, every week for 4-6 weeks. 90% of babies must undergo a small surgical procedure to release the tightened Achilles tendon before the last cast is placed. Following the casting the child is fitted for the first brace; worn

The greatest obstacle to treatment is the commitment of the parents to the treatment program- when resources are scarce, many events can restrict the ability to give this treatment the dedication it requires.

An additional obstacle is the cost of the brace! Several vendors sell their braces for upwards of $300. Thanks to the collaboration of OSSA and ClubFoot Solutions, a high-quality more affordable brace is finally available in Guatemala and other Latin American countries. Clubfoot Solutions partnered with OSSA to sell its IOWA Brace at the reduced cost of $15 a brace! 

In January 2019, OSSA became the only distributor of the IOWA Brace in Latin America, generously provided by Clubfoot Solutions, the inventor of the IOWA Brace. As Clubfoot Solutions writes, “It was designed by a team of renowned specialists at the University of Iowa, including Dr. Nicole Grosland, professor of biomedical engineering; Dr. Thomas Cook, professor emeritus of public health and physical therapy; and Dr. Jose Morcuende, pediatric orthopedic surgeon and President of Ponseti International Association. The Iowa Brace has the advantage of having been designed by experts who used their insights from decades of clinical experience treating children born with clubfoot/” Their product is lightweight, comfortable, durable, and reduces discomfort and skin irritations.

To incentivize parents to return for continued treatment, OSSA offers subsequent IOWA braces at reduced prices. When a family member returns a used brace in good condition, every new IOWA brace is purchased at a laddering reduced price. In this way braces are being recycled, the cost of braces will continue to go down, and we encourage families to continue to make the long trek to the OSSA Clubfoot Clinic for treatment. 

By partnering with ClubFoot Solutions, OSSA has been able to address one of the greatest obstacles in treating clubfoot; the cost. 80% of Guatemalans do not have insurance and purchasing expensive braces isn’t an option. 

Some families travel many hours for treatment in the San Marcos National Hospital /OSSA Clinic. Other families are as yet unaware that such treatment is available in the region. Through parent interviews, we have been informed parents were advised to journey to Mexico or take the 7+ hour ride to the capital for treatment. For nearly all families, such time-consuming and costly treks aren’t feasible. A future blitz advertising and promotional initiative will help spread the word.

Now in the San Marcos department of 1.2 million people there is a public clinic with affordable care! OSSA will help continue to identify and eliminate obstacles to ClubFoot treatment throughout San Marcos and surrounding regions. 

Through the efforts of OSSA and the great partnership with our friends at ClubFoot Solutions, the people of the region now have a viable path towards curing their child’s clubfoot and drastically improving the financial and independent prospects of their children’s future!