Club foot can be caused from genetic mutations, spinal injuries, or in many cases idiopathic or no known cause. Many children are completely healthy with exception to an inward turned foot and ankle. In America the surgery can be done at once or gradually corrected with patients ability to walk and have a normal life. However, if not corrected that individual will be crippled and often unable to walk for life, completely destroying an otherwise happy healthy life.
As an undergraduate I explored going to Hope Hospital in Cambodia. It is a free hospital with the goal of treating patients and rebuilding a doctor population completely decimated during Vietnam and the “killing fields”. The hospital treats patients and trains Cambodian doctors on techniques and procedures that will sustain the country while providing trained doctors mission opportunities. I was unable to be used there at that time but it has always been a dream to go there one day.
In my training I learned extensive techniques in repairing club feet in children and adults. One unique surgical technique I learned is called progressive correction with external fixation. It is initially applied in the operating room and then adjusted in the office for gradual correction.
The external fixators, or ring fixators, are very expensive and can only be applied to one patient. They are perfectly fine after sterilization but can not be reused. My goal is to get donations and collect retired frames and ultimately take those to Cambodia and apply them to children and adults that can benefit from the technique while at the same time teaching local doctors how to apply and use the device. In the long run I hope to help Cambodia be self sufficient in surgically correcting club feet and help rid the debilitating disease to those less fortunate as us Americans.