On January 27, NPR ran a short piece on a new treatment for clubfoot. Here’s a quote from the transcript:
“Just a decade ago, up to 90 percent of babies…were treated with surgery that usually had to be repeated several times. That created a buildup of scar tissue that often left patients with a lifetime of chronic pain, stiffness, arthritis and medical bills. But with the help of a simple, noninvasive solution and an Internet campaign led by parents, the course of treatment and likely outcomes have changed completely.”
Clubfoot, in which the baby’s feet are turned completely inward, is a common birth defect, with an incidence of about 1 per 1000 babies. Surgical correction involves virtually dismantling the deformed foot and reassembling it in the normal orientation.
Today doctors gently straighten the foot using manipulation and a series of casts, and also apply a metal brace to keep the feet flexed outward while the child is asleep.
This new method of treating clubfoot was developed by Ignacio Ponseti, MD, at the University of Iowa in the 50’s. The method is usually painless, non-invasive (except for a small incision in the Achilles tendon), and almost always completely successful. There’s no residual disability, and usually no need for follow-up surgery.
But – amazingly – Dr. Ponseti’s method didn’t catch on outside Iowa until relatively recently. Elsewhere, surgeons went on for another 50 years or so rebuilding these babies’ feet the painful, old-fashioned way. Throughout these decades Dr. Ponseti tried hard to spread the word, but without much success.
But about ten years ago, parents of children who had been helped by Dr. Ponseti’s method began to use the Internet to publicize and promote the procedure. Today 97% of children born with this deformity in the US are treated successfully with Dr. Ponseti’s method. It is also being used extensively abroad.
So, dear reader, if you find yourself losing heart, if you’re beginning to feel that “…the struggle naught availeth…” remember Dr. Ponseti and his fifty year battle against a deeply entrenched status quo.
There are two factors that will ultimately succeed in exposing psychiatry for the destructive fraud that it is has become. Firstly, the survivor movement, which is increasingly finding its voice; and secondly, the Internet – the biggest bullhorn ever invented!
For the record, I’m not equating surgeons who address real illness and real pathology with psychiatrists, who prescribe dangerous drugs for “illnesses” of their own invention. The story is analogical, and the similarity can only be taken so far.
The message is: Don’t Lose Heart.
PS: Dr. Ponseti continued to practice into his nineties. He lived long enough to see his ideas become widely accepted, and died in 2009 at the age of 95. You can read more on the Ponseti technique on Wikipedia and in an American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons article Ponseti method revolutionized clubfoot care by Jennie McKee.