JKUAT’s Department of Physiotherapy in conjunction with the Clubfoot Care for Kenya (CCK) convened a workshop Wednesday, July 6, 2021 in a bid to equip over 40 physiotherapy and occupational therapy students with the requisite skills in clubfoot correction.
The participants were taken through the importance of early club-foot detection, how to identify the type of club-foot and how to effectively treat it using the ponseti method which is recognized as the best treatment.
Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society with around one in 806 children born affected by clubfoot annually. In Kenya, clubfoot is one of the most common birth deformities with the children often facing the risk of a lifetime of disability, pain, stigma, exclusion, rejection, limited life opportunities and loss of hope.
According to the CCK Clinical Supervisor, Ms. Victoria Kimathi, club-foot is a condition a child is born with, in which one or both feet are twisted inwards and downwards noting early correction of club-foot is important especially before the child starts walking as the joints and tendons are very flexible.
“The goal of treatment is to improve the way your child’s foot looks and works before he or she learns to walk, in hopes of preventing long-term disabilities,” she observed.
The congenital deformity which occurs specifically in middle-income countries the CCK Clinical Supervisor noted, is most prevalent in boys than girls outlining the importance of effective and early treatment as a mitigating factor in the occurrence of severe disability.
The ponseti method which involves two stages namely; correction (casting and tenotomy) and maintaining (braces) Ms. Kimathi acknowledged, is the accepted standard for clubfoot treatment. She further revealed that it uses gentle manipulation and weekly cast changes with a minimal invasive outpatient procedure.
“This method is used to lengthen the Achilles tendon above the heel by a simple cut done by a doctor. The procedure takes few minutes then a final cast is applied and stays on for three weeks. The clubfoot takes about six to eight weeks to be corrected,” stated the CCK Clinical supervisor.
To ensure the success of clubfoot treatment from start to finish, there is need to create awareness among the masses especially parents in a move that will be detrimental in preventing stigma associated with children with disabilities.
An Orthopedic Technologist from Mbagathi County Hospital, Elizabeth Mungaithi, said most parents felt as if they were to blame for their children’s physical appearance, which was not the case. She noted that creating a conducive environment for the patient by educating and reassuring the parents was an important step in getting them to open up and be part of the process.
“In order to identify the type of clubfoot, you need to make the parents comfortable for them to open up about the history of the patient. This information will be important in effectively diagnosing the congenital deformity,” asserted the Orthopedic Technologist.
The training, she pointed out, would be an important step in arming future professionals when handling the club-foot treatment effectively.
Speaking during the event, Department of Physiotherapy Chairman, Dr. Joseph Mwangi Matheri was appreciative of the CCK delegation’s training, adding that the students were equipped with market-driven skills. He advised the students to utilize the skills acquired to impact the society.
With the rising population and statistics showing birth defects on the rise, Dr. Matheri said the workshop was timely and would ensure the University churns out holistic students in the physiotherapy sector noting JKUAT has a role to play in producing professionals to respond to the diverse population needs especially children born with birth defects.
On the impact of the training, Brenda Chepkirui, a Fourth-year Physiotherapy student said it had impacted her with invaluable skills like communication and teamwork skills, which she noted, would set her apart from her peers.
Ms. Chepkirui further said networking with the trainers had also widened her perspective on the ever changing job expectations which she said would shape her to successful transition into the working environment.
“This training has been an eye opener on the club-foot prevalence and the need to enlighten the people on the same,” stated the Fourth year Physiotherapy student.