The MiracleFeet Brace
A brace worn primarily at night for up to 5 years is a critical part of clubfoot treatment. Poor compliance can lead to relapses.
A lot of work goes into successful clubfoot treatment, from identification, to casting, to the tenotomy. However, the stage of treatment most likely to determine long-term success is bracing. A key part of the Ponseti Method, children wear an abduction brace consisting of shoes and a bar which maintain the feet in the proper position as they grow. The brace phase of treatment is multifaceted so let’s break it down.
Half of children in treatment do not wear their brace as prescribed, which often results in relapse. In addition, most braces are either high-quality but unaffordable ($200 – $1,000) or inexpensive ($8 – $40) but hard to use, uncomfortable for the child, and not easily scalable.
MiracleFeet partners reported the lack of an easy-to-use affordable brace was the single biggest impediment to scaling Ponseti treatment in their countries. Since braces are worn for up to four years after the completion of active treatment, and they are critical to long-term patient outcomes, MiracleFeet knew that scaling clubfoot treatment in low- and middle-income countries required a high-quality, low-cost solution.
MiracleFeet recognized that there was a need to fill when it came to clubfoot braces. In 2013 we set out to design a brace that would be affordable, easy to use, and durable.
MiracleFeet then partnered with the Stanford d.school’s Extreme Affordability course to work on executing the design we had envisioned. Through this two-year process, and with support from corporate partners Suncast and Clarks Shoes, the Stanford team produced a sleek, high-quality, award-winning device.
Costing less than $20 to produce, the MiracleFeet Brace comes with all the functionality of the $350-$1,000 braces used in the U.S. It features a wider, more stable base, allowing kids to stand while wearing it; detachable shoes, making it easier for parents to put on a moving toddler; and sturdy, colorful plastic – making the brace look more like a toy than a medical device.
The end product achieved our initial vision: ease of use for the parent, comfort for the child, and improved treatment outcomes for clinicians. Providers and families alike are extremely satisfied with the MiracleFeet brace and early reports from clinical studies show that it is at least as effective as currently-available models.
In 2015, we sent our first major shipment out into the clubfoot world. To date, 32,237 pairs of shoes and 17,391 bars have been distributed to 29 countries. Over the next year, MiracleFeet anticipates sending another 12,000 pairs of shoes and 8,000 bars around the world.
The MiracleFeet Brace is FDA-registered, patented, and a recipient of numerous awards and media recognition.
- Laureate at The Tech Awards in the Katherine M. Swanson Young Innovator category
- The Global Health and Innovation Conference (GHIC) Prize at the Unite for Sight Global Health & Innovation Conference at Yale University
- USAID DIV award for rollout and testing
- Silver Award in the category of Health and Wellness at the Edison Awards
- Fast Company Innovation by Design finalist
- Jeff Yang and Ian Connolly win at Switchpoint Student Silo Busters Contest with the MiracleFeet brace
- Brace featured on Wired.com
- Brace featured in The New York Times
- Brace featured on “The Big Idea” on MSNBC