When MIT student Jason Troutner read about MiracleFeet’s work to support accessible clubfoot treatment, he knew he wanted to get involved. As a fellow in MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations – an elite program whose participants earn both an MBA and an MS in engineering in two years – Troutner knew he had the entrepreneurial and technical background to contribute something meaningful.
He also had a personal reason: Troutner was born with bilateral clubfoot. “I had a difficult treatment journey as a child, and I have developed chronic ankle pain in my adult years as a result,” Troutner said. “I started trying to learn about my own condition and discovered that a large portion of the world still has poor access to clubfoot treatment. I contacted MiracleFeet to learn more, and they helped me identify a pain point that I knew I could help provide a solution to.”
Troutner had the expertise and passion; MiracleFeet had the need. As part of our model to empower local Ponseti practitioners, we provide technical training to our clinicians throughout the world. Because the anatomy of the foot is so complex and manipulation is a critical part of the clubfoot treatment process, it’s important that practitioners have plenty of opportunities to replicate this during technical training.
Troutner and his team – fellow MIT Leaders for Global Operations Fellows Youssef Aroub and Shalini Singh – developed a 3D silicone model of the foot and lower leg containing 3D printed bones. The first prototype of the 3D model has been completed and enthusiastically received by our partners. Seeing the bones inside the 3D model will allow trainees to better learn the Ponseti method. Ryan Bathurst, the coordinator for MiracleFeet’s partner in Zimbabwe, said he usually tells his trainees to “use their x-ray vision” during training; this new prototype would show them everything they need to see.
The next step in the project is to collect feedback from our programs team and partners and determine what improvements can be made to the prototype. Troutner knows what it’s like to receive treatment for clubfoot and approaches his work from the perspective of the patients. “Any time we want to make a change or add a new feature, we first ask ourselves, ‘Will this result in better treatment for more children?'” he said.
Stay tuned for the end result of this exciting passion project!