External Evaluation

Hearing from parents: how treating clubfoot affects mobility and quality of life  

Mothers, fathers, and caregivers know and care about their children like no one else. They fret over tears, worry about their future, and notice each small gain – the first smile, first words, first steps. MiracleFeet highly values hearing from the families we support to understand the impact of clubfoot treatment, including where and how our programs are serving families exceptionally well and where we still need to improve.  

MiracleFeet has partnered with the social impact measurement firm 60_decibels since 2019 to gather and analyze feedback from parents and caregivers of children treated with the Ponseti Method in MiracleFeet-supported clinics around the world.  

This year’s 60_decibels report surveyed 676 parents and caregivers of children who have received clubfoot care in 42 clinics in Tanzania and four clinics in Sri Lanka. Building on five years of parental survey data across eleven MiracleFeet partner-countries, we are increasingly refining our focus to learn more and improve our programs. For this reason, this year we sought feedback from a cohort of parents of older children (5-10 years old) in Tanzania in addition to the younger cohort (3-5 years old) we more typically reach with these surveys.  

2024 MiracleFeet 60_decibel Report

While Ponseti treatment protocols include bracing and clinic visits to the age of four or five, surveying parents of children older than five allows us to explore outcomes as children reach school age. These findings are encouraging. Parents report that more than 90% of older treated children can play in an age-appropriate manner, wear normal closed-toed shoes, and walk without difficulty all or most of the time. Similarly, 89% can balance in a squat always or most of the time—an important skill for daily living in Tanzania. And an impressive 98% of children in the Tanzanian older cohort are currently enrolled in and attending school, something that children with disabilities are significantly less likely to do in low- and middle-income countries.  

In addition to these new findings, top-level results reinforce that MiracleFeet and our partners are providing quality clubfoot care to children. Overall, caregivers consistently report a strong positive impact on their child’s life after undergoing clubfoot treatment, with 99% reporting that their child’s quality of life has improved.  

“It’s been two years since he recovered from clubfoot. He can now do his own tasks, play, dance, and run – just like other children his age.”

– Caregiver in Sri Lanka

Survey findings, including information gleaned from open-ended questions, also reveal challenges frequently faced by families in completing treatment. The most frequently reported issue this year was the child’s discomfort with the treatment protocol (wearing casts and braces), followed by travel time and distance to clinic appointments, and expense. We continue to work closely with partners to mitigate these challenges and help ensure successful treatment completion.  

Hearing directly from parents, in addition to our treatment providers, informs and inspires us to continue transforming young lives.