Clubfoot is a congenital deformity of the foot, and affects between 150,000 and 200,000 babies each year worldwide. Extensive surgery was once the standard of care for clubfoot, improving the appearance of the foot but resulting in poor mobility and pain in midlife. Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, a Univeristy of Iowa Physician, pioneered what has become known as the Ponseti method. It involves manipulation of the newborn’s feet via casting and splinting, and has replaced surgery as the standard of care.
While the Ponseti Method doesn’t involve expensive surgeries or equipment, it does require detailed knowledge of both the anatomy of the foot and the method itself. In the case of clubfoot, the key to a cure is the education of physicians. Easy enough in the US and other developed countries. But 80% of cases occur in the developing nations, and most babies are left untreated or receive substandard care. it is difficult for physicians there to get the information they need to perform the method correctly.
To date, spreading the Ponseti Method involved visits by physicians from the developed world to the developing world to teach and perform the method. But Carver College of Medicine student Asitha Jayawardena’shealthcare experiences in South America lead him to the notion that educating one leader on the topic would allow them to spread the method among his colleagues in a culturally appropriate manner. At his urging, The American Medical Student Association created the Ponseti Scholairship to help spread the technique.
Recently, Asitha sat down with Dr. Mansoor Ali Khan, an orthopaedic surgeon from The Indus Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, and the Ponseti Scholarship’s first beneficiary, to talk about Khan’s experiences at the University of Iowa as he learns more about the Ponseti Method.
Listen: Dr. Mansoor Ali Khan, Clubfoot, and The Ponseti Method