Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, an orthopedic surgeon, developed the Ponseti Method to correct clubfoot during his tenure at the University of Iowa Hospital. The Ponseti Method involves the use of four to five casts,to manipulate the foot to correct the deformity. After the castings are complete, the clubfeet need to be placed in braces (such as the Dobbs Brace), which have small shoes attached.
Dr. Ponseti said that in the 1950&prime;s when he was first developing his method that he used regular shoes from J.C. Penneys. He would cut the toes out of them and put a couple of screws through the bottom of the shoes and attach them to a bar. Eventually, J.C. Penney's stopped making those kind of shoes and other companies such as the Markell Shoe Company began manufacturing them.
But in attaching Markell shoes to new babies feet, there is occasionally a problem with sores or blisters while children's feet get used to the shoes. Also, for a small percentage of clubfeet in the first year, the Markell shoes may not fit or stay on very well.
Enter John Mitchell, a small businessman in Iowa whose specialty is molded plastic medical models. Mitchell thought that he could create a shoe that would help fit the more difficult clubfeet and reduce the risk of sores and blisters, as well as shoes coming off.
Mitchell worked on this for a number of years, making different samples, showing them to Dr. Ponseti, and seeing what did and didn't work. Gradually, Mitchell came up with a sandal type shoe with 3 straps across it, sort of like a Birkenstock sandal. Mitchell started making the Mitchell Shoes in 4 to 5 smaller sizes for the first year or so of life. After the first year or so, a child's clubfeet are usually large enough that the Markell Shoes will work fine.
Dr. Ponseti endorsed Mitchell shoes for their comfort and ability to stay on, however, he was concerned that this type of specialty manufacturing would mean a more expensive pair of shoes. Whereas the Markell shoes may cost $65 to $100 per pair, the Mitchell Shoes cost about $200.
But for those few parents whose children's feet won't stay in the Markell Shoes or who get blisters, sores etc., the extra $100 to $200 per pair of shoes may mean the difference between their child being able to keep the brace on or not.
If your child has clubfoot and you are seeking advice on shoes, braces or treatment, then you need to seek out a qualified clubfoot doctor who is trained in the Ponseti Method of clubfoot correction.
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Article Added on Friday, July 13, 2012
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