We Are

Mobilizing children for life

We Can End a Major Disability

2 million children

live with the pain and stigma of untreated clubfoot, a condition that affects at least 1 in 800 globally.

MiracleFeet is on a mission to create universal access to treatment for this leading cause of physical disability worldwide. We partner with local health workers and organizations to bring the low-cost solution to children who need it today and for generations. Less than $500 can cover the cost of treatment for one child.

60,132 lives transformed
334 clinics
29 countries
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A World Apart: A Global Clubfoot Journey Fueled by One Woman’s Resolve
Aisha was born in Senegal in the early 1980s. At the time, there were no referral pathways, no midwives or skilled birth attendants trained in clubfoot identification or treatment. Being born with an obvious congenital condition was, as Aisha’s parents were told when they tried unsuccessfully to find treatment, “God’s will.”
What About the 5%? Two Stories of Complex Clubfoot, Ten Years Later
Guilherme’s story For 95% of children born with clubfoot, a series of 6-8 casts followed by a brace yields lasting results—and those are the stories we usually tell. But about 5% require long-term care. Seeing Guilherme play soccer on an invitation-only team in São Paulo, Brazil, no one would know he was born with clubfoot, not to mention a rarer form that makes his feet more prone to relapse. For his mother, Alessandra, seeing him play is a victory, and a relief. When he was born via c-section, the attending doctor screamed. “Not even she had any idea what it was,” remembers Alessandra. “We were terrified. Clubfoot was something that we knew nothing about. We had no idea what it was or what it meant. We were sent home without exactly knowing what was wrong with our child. Even at the hospital, they didn’t clarify anything. They gave us no proper course of action.” Your browser does not support the video tag. Like many parents, Alessandra turned to the internet for answers. After significant research she found a private clinic advertising treatment. But when she learned the cost, she was devastated; each appointment was 750 reais (approximately $143 USD), and appointments were weekly for an untold number of months. “Even with both me and my husband working, we couldn’t afford it.”   Alessandra eventually found Dr. Laura Ferreira, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of São Paulo, who learned the Ponseti treatment method from Dr. Ponseti himself. When Guilherme was just 19 days-old, they attended their first appointment. Dr. Ferreira explained that, most likely, treatment would be complete by the time Guilherme turned five, and her clinic (MiracleFeet’s first-ever program partner, beginning in 2010) offered this care at no cost. But from there, things didn’t progress as expected. Guilherme has relapsed several times and he is still undergoing treatment, wearing the brace intermittently and doing physical therapy daily. Although the bones in his feet were corrected during the casting stage of treatment, his tendons are not following the same growth pace as his feet, increasing the risk of relapse as he grows. Your browser does not support the video tag. Your browser does not support the video tag. “Our lives were one thing before clubfoot, and another after.” “Until he stops growing, we have to be watchful,” says Alessandra, “and pay attention to the way that he walks and how he steps. Until he’s finished growing, we can’t stop looking after his condition.” Even with the limitations of wearing a cast or a brace, Guilherme’s parents encouraged him to be active. They introduced him to skateboarding when he was two years old, then swimming, and biking, and eventually soccer. Alessandra and her husband try to minimize any stigma Guilherme perceives, but it’s a constant struggle.  Guilherme fell in love with soccer. Recently, he was invited to play for a soccer school in Guarulhos. “We accept him the way he is. But society doesn’t. That’s our biggest fear,” she admits. “People carry a lot of prejudice. People find it strange, or ugly, or weird. People would ask me if I have been beating my son. They look at the boots and say, ‘wow, you got him those shoes to constrain his feet?’ I realize people react this way due to a lack of information, but it’s traumatic both for the kid and the family who has to hear to it.” When Alessandra went back to work at her salon just a month after giving birth, she brought Guilherme with her—both of his legs in casts. She made a special room for him so she could watch him while she worked. “If I didn’t keep working, I would not have been able to provide him with the support he needed,” she says. “And I had no one to leave him with, so I worked with him by my side.” She adjusted her work schedule to accommodate Guilherme’s weekly appointments at the clinic, a 45-minute drive when Alessandra could borrow a car—but usually an indirect trip involving three bus changes and a subway ride. To make it to their appointments on time, they would leave at 5:00 in the morning and wouldn’t return home until late afternoon. Your browser does not support the video tag. “People carry a lot of prejudice. People find it strange, or ugly, or weird.” And then there are the logistics of caring for a baby in a cast, or a brace, or with limited mobility. Bathing, dressing, donning footwear, are all more challenging. “We changed our routine completely, and our entire family structure,” she admits. “I thought I’d have a child and go back to work, that my son would be walking and running around. I never thought I’d have to make a full day available only for treatments.” Managing Guilherme’s ongoing treatments, while running a small business of her own, has been a journey of hidden sacrifices and rewards. “Today, when I look at our situation, I see that this is a small price to pay. I can only be thankful.” Alessandra’s advice to other parents: “You have to be strong, don’t give up. No matter how difficult it might seem, do not give up. Because it’s worth it.” More from MiracleFeet From Outsider to Influencer: How Ando Muscled His Way into Activism Local Photojournalist Raises Clubfoot Awareness in Nigeria A World Apart: A Global Clubfoot Journey Fueled by One Woman’s Resolve What About the 5%? Two Stories of Complex Clubfoot, Ten Years Later
The 5%: Children with Complex Clubfoot, Part 2
Guilherme’s story For 95% of children born with clubfoot, a series of 6-8 casts followed by a brace yields lasting results—and those are the stories we usually tell. But about 5% require long-term care. After having four children, Solange had no way of knowing the changes to her life and her family dynamic that would follow the birth of her youngest son, João Paulo. “We have a child with a disability who requires differentiated care,” she explains. “In that sense, it changed the entire family dynamic.” Solange found out just after delivery that João Paulo had unilateral clubfoot. His left foot was severely turned in, almost backwards. She immediately thought of a former neighbor who, even though he was a teenager, was carried around by his father because he couldn’t walk. Your browser does not support the video tag. Your browser does not support the video tag. João Paulo playing soccer with his brothers. “Wow, congenital clubfoot. What now?” “My kid won’t be able to walk. He won’t be able to go to school and do things,” Solange remembers worrying. The fear and realization that there was a chance João Paulo would never develop full mobility propelled her and her husband to seek treatment. Eventually, they found Dr. Laura Ferreira at the University Hospital of São Paulo. “I was very worried at first, because I had seen children who could not walk because of this condition. Dr. Laura told us that there was a way to manage it,” Solange remembers. At 14 days old João Paulo had his first appointment and began the Ponseti treatment process: casting, a tenotomy, and bracing (which Solange refers to as “boots”). Over time, though, his prognosis and course of treatment deviated from what the majority of patients experience: João Paulo does have some pain, has intermittently required additional casts, and still wears the brace for extended periods—but he is nonetheless very active. Your browser does not support the video tag. Your browser does not support the video tag. As Dr. Ferreira explained to Solange, João’s foot has a tendency to relapse. This means he must continue wearing the brace for longer than most children or else his foot will turn back in. His treatment has also required surgery.“ He never stopped wearing the boots,” says Solange emphatically. “It was never recommended to stop wearing them. I don’t know how long it will last, but during this period in his growth he ought to wear the boots.” Related: Guilherme's story What About the 5%? Two Stories of Complex Clubfoot, Ten Years Later “He manages to adapt. He doesn’t sit back whining.” Spending long hours off his feet ignited a love of drawing. João Paulo spends hours watching and copying techniques from instructional videos and he wants to be an illustrator one day, with an art shop of his own. As João Paulo has gotten older, the whole family has adapted, finding new seated activities to do together. They play card games together, and Solange taught him to weave on a little square loom. But with four older siblings, João Paulo isn’t inclined to sit still for long or let his brace get in the way of his autonomy.   João Paulo is now nine years old with a strong desire for an independent and active life. Solange understands and wants this for him as well, but also insists he continue wearing the brace, even if it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable, so that he can move forward without the constant fear of relapse. Your browser does not support the video tag. Your browser does not support the video tag. “People carry a lot of prejudice. People find it strange, or ugly, or weird.” “I was afraid that he wouldn’t have a normal life. That he would, I don’t know, stop doing childhood things, or even not manage to do things in his adult life. If he hadn’t gone through the treatment, he wouldn’t be able to do many things. I am sure of that.” Solange’s advice for other parents: “jump right into treatment, follow the guidelines and do everything you can, your child will have a healthy life and clubfoot doesn’t have to impose any obstacles at all.” “It is really about dedication. Dedication and perseverance.” More from MiracleFeet From Outsider to Influencer: How Ando Muscled His Way into Activism Local Photojournalist Raises Clubfoot Awareness in Nigeria A World Apart: A Global Clubfoot Journey Fueled by One Woman’s Resolve What About the 5%? Two Stories of Complex Clubfoot, Ten Years Later

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