Visionary physician pioneers alternative clubfoot treatment

October 27, 1999

For more information, contact Michael Sondergard, University of Iowa Health Care, 319/356-7123; Tom Moore, University of Iowa Health Care, 319-356-3945; or Lorna Bennett, Porter Novelli, 312-856-8857. Visionary Physician Pioneers Alternative Clubfoot Treatment Awareness among parents, physicians goal of educational crusade IOWA CITY, IA, October 27, 1999 - In an effort to help children who have one of the most common birth defects, University of Iowa Health Care orthopaedic surgeon Ignacio Ponseti, MD, two orthopaedic colleagues and a group of parent supporters have begun an educational crusade to increase awareness and acceptance of a non-surgical, low-cost treatment for clubfoot deformity. This effort now is shifting into high gear through teaching clinics in California and Indiana designed to train physicians in the "Ponseti Method" of treatment. In addition, the University of Iowa Health Care orthopaedists are launching a new web site designed to increase public awareness and understanding of clubfoot and non-surgical treatment options. These efforts are intended to recruit more supporters among physicians and parents for this highly effective method for treating clubfoot, developed over a 50-year period by Ignacio Ponseti, MD. He and UI colleagues Stuart Weinstein, MD, and Fred Deitz, MD are internationally recognized for their skill in the non-operative treatment of clubfoot. -- more -- All three perform the technique in a clubfoot clinic at the Children's Hospital of Iowa, located at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. John E. Herzenberg, MD, associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Maryland Medical School, recently became familiar with the Ponseti Method. "The overwhelming majority of orthopaedic surgeons in North America don't understand Ponseti's method, and they tend to dismiss it out of hand," Herzenberg said. "This is a shame because there are thousands of babies who could be treated in such a way as to avoid excessive surgery. I began using Dr. Ponseti's method two and half years ago. My only regret is that I didn't learn this technique earlier." As part of his effort to promote the technique, Ponseti will conduct teaching clinics at the University of California, San Francisco. At the invitation of UCSF faculty member Eliana Delgado, MD, he will demonstrate the method to a group of San Francisco area orthopaedic specialists by treating 20 infants with clubfoot. Ponseti has conducted similar teaching clinics around the world, including academic centers in Aberdeen, Scotland; Montpelier and Toulouse, France; Sunderland, England; and Barcelona, Spain. Ponseti also will discuss the technique at a similar class in Indiana and at upcoming medical conferences in 2000. The Ponseti Method for clubfoot treatment is a non-surgical procedure that begins with the orthopaedist's understanding of foot anatomy mechanics. The technique involves manual manipulation and straightening of the foot and the application of toe-to- -- more -- groin plaster casts. These casts are changed weekly after the clinician manipulates softened foot ligaments to gradually achieve near-normal muscle and bone alignment. Five or six cast changes are sufficient to correct most clubfeet. The method offers an alternative to the series of surgeries traditionally prescribed for many patients. Despite the success of the method, Ponseti, Weinstein and Dietz continue to struggle against time and tradition to raise awareness of it. Only a handful of orthopaedic surgeons currently use this non-surgical method and others know little about it - a fact that has eighty-five year-old Ponseti and parents of children with clubfoot concerned. The new University of Iowa Health Care website, launched this month, will link together physicians and parents via an electric chat forum. The clubfoot site,, is linked to University of Iowa Health Care's internationally recognized Virtual Hospital web site. The site offers answers to frequently asked questions by parents, in-depth clubfoot and Ponseti Method information for both physicians and parents, a 20-minute video digitized for web use and a chat forum where parents of children with clubfoot can communicate with families who have experienced the Ponseti Method of treatment. "It is my hope that vehicles such as this class and the new web site will inspire other physicians and parents to more actively and vocally promote non-surgical treatment for clubfoot," said Ponseti. "Ultimately, each child with clubfoot should have the least traumatic and most effective treatment possible." -- more -- A former Spanish Army surgeon, Ponseti began his medical career treating hundreds of orthopaedic wounds during the Spanish Civil War. After the war, he came to the United States and studied under Arthur Steindler, MD, then head of UI orthopaedic surgery. During the 1950s, Ponseti took special interest in children with clubfoot and began to develop the Ponseti Method. He has dedicated his professional career to helping children born with clubfoot and other orthopaedic conditions. University of Iowa Health Care is a collaborative partnership between the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the University of Iowa College of Medicine. The UI Hospitals and Clinics is one of the largest university-owned teaching hospitals in the nation and consistently ranks one of America's best. The UI College of Medicine earns high national rankings for excellence in graduate education and quality biomedical research. Its researchers are world leaders in areas ranging from cardiovascular studies and brain mapping to age-related macular degeneration and cochlear implant research and implantation. Together, the UI Hospitals and Clinics and College of Medicine provide world-class patient care, health care education and leading biomedical research to the people of Iowa and beyond. # # #

Porter Novelli

Related Children Articles from Brightsurf:

Black and Hispanic children in the US have more severe eczema than white children
A presentation at this year's virtual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting reveals the disparities that exist for Black and Hispanic children when it comes to Atopic Dermatitis (AD), commonly known as eczema.

Black children with cancer three times less likely to receive proton radiotherapy than White children
A retrospective analysis led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital has found racial disparities in the use of the therapy for patients enrolled in trials.

The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health: First Europe-wide study of children confirms COVID-19 predominately causes mild disease in children and fatalities are very rare
Children with COVID-19 generally experience a mild disease and fatalities are very rare, according to a study of 582 patients from across Europe published today in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.

Children not immune to coronavirus; new study from pandemic epicenter describes severe COVID-19 response in children
- While most children infected with the novel coronavirus have mild symptoms, a subset requires hospitalization and a small number require intensive care.

How many children is enough?
Most Russians would like to have two children: a boy and a girl.

Preterm children have similar temperament to children who were institutionally deprived
A child's temperament is affected by the early stages of their life.

Only-children more likely to be obese than children with siblings
Families with multiple children tend to make more healthy eating decisions than families with a single child.

Children living in countryside outperform children living in metropolitan area in motor skills
Residential density is related to children's motor skills, engagement in outdoor play and organised sports. that Finnish children living in the countryside spent more time outdoors and had better motor skills than their age peers in the metropolitan area.

Hispanic and black children more likely to miss school due to eczema than white children
In a study that highlights racial disparities in the everyday impact of eczema, new research shows Hispanic and black children are more likely than white children to miss school due to the chronic skin disease.

Children, their parents, and health professionals often underestimate children's higher weight status
More than half of parents underestimated their children's classification as overweight or obese -- children themselves and health professionals also share this misperception, according to new research being presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, UK (April 28-May 1).

Read More: Children News and Children Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to