Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Clubfoot Files: The Footnote Film Project

Today I want to share with you a great project that I recently found out about.  

Zach Gorelick reached out to me about a film he is making with his girlfriend Hannah about clubfoot and its treatment around the world.  He has a vested interest in this cause - he is an adult who is still living with clubfoot.  He did not receive the same type of treatment that babies are given today, and his clubfoot is still a very present and painful part of his life.  As he says about this film, "This is personal."

When we first got the diagnosis of Harper's clubfoot when I was 25 weeks pregnant, I was very upset and confused - I knew nothing about it and fears about her never being able to walk crept up quickly.  One of my first disbelieving thoughts, embarrassingly and ignorantly enough, was "Wait.  Isn't clubfoot something that happens to babies in developing countries?  Not something that happens here.  Isn't that something you see on those commercials for sponsoring a child in Africa?"

That's just it - we don't hear about clubfoot often in America because it is so very easily and painlessly fixed, so early on.  Babies just like Harper are casted in the first weeks of their lives and their clubfoot is CURED.  Harper doesn't have clubfoot anymore.  It's fixed.  For her it took a whopping 4 weeks to cure it.  Her brace she wears now just keeps it from returning.  

Yet in other parts of the world, this doesn't happen.  In fact, 80% of clubfoot cases occur in developing countries, and the reasons for this are yet unknown.  Additionally, treatment isn't available or there is a lack of education about the nature of clubfoot and children grow up without treatment.  Therefore, they become grownups who are unable to walk properly.

As Zach points out, there isn't much focus on clubfoot in global health initiatives.  Because really, no one "dies" of clubfoot.  Yet what we don't always realize as Americans is that the ability to walk is vital to the livelihood of people living in the developing world.  If you cannot walk, you cannot perform many of the functions necessary to survival.  

Take a look at the short video Zach has made that sets up all of this beautifully:

[click here to view the video on YouTube if you are unable to watch it within this post]

I knew all of this.  I knew there are children, grown children, living in other countries who never receive proper care.  Yet this video had me in tears, feeling so much sorrow for these babies who will never get the chance at the kind of life Harper will have.  I was stressed about having to drive an hour into Atlanta for treatment (um, to go to one of the best Children's hospitals in the country where my insurance covered most of it and I could afford gas to get there and I am a stay at home mom who has the time and resources to attend appointments etc. etc. etc.).  I was recently worried about a few blisters.  The children in this video have to drag their feet behind them to get from place to place.

What's wonderful about the Ponseti treatment (what Harper had) is that it is non-surgical.  All that's needed to begin the healing process is basic casting supplies and trained doctors.  This is something that can be done in places where a sterile operating room just isn't going to happen.  And it's pretty cheap on the scale of curing debilitating conditions.

Zach's film hopes to bring awareness to clubfoot worldwide and to what can be done to improve treatment in developing nations.  They are in the fundraising stage and need lots of help to reach their goal.

How can you help?

(Many organizations are working hard to help bring the Ponseti treatment to developing countries.  There are many ways you can help, including donating used braces.  I plan to write up a post on that sometime soon, as we are ready to donate Harper's first pair of shoes!)

I hope you are able to watch his video and think about supporting this great cause.  Thanks everyone! 

{{Check out my other Clubfoot Files posts here}}


  1. Hi - found your blog via the Footnote Film FB page. My baby is due in October and has bilateral clubfoot. I've been reading your Clubfoot files posts and they've been very helpful and informative! Thank you. :) I'm glad Harper is doing so well.

    1. Hi JoAnna! Thanks so much for your email!! Glad my posts have been somewhat helpful. I wish you didn't have to deal with clubfoot, but as I'm sure you've read in my posts, our experience has been one that's not too bad - just an extra step in raising a baby! Hope your case goes just as smoothly! Congrats on your baby!!


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