Ignacio Ponseti was born in 1914 on the Spanish Island of Menorca. As a teenager he worked at his father's watch repair workshop where he learned training and precision. At the age of 16 he began attending the University of Barcelona where he earned a degree in biology as well as an MD. Following graduation in 1936, Ponseti served as a medic during the Spanish Civil War, treating hundreds of orthopaedic wounds.
In 1941, Dr. Ponseti came to the University of Iowa to finish his residency and went on to join the faculty of orthopaedic medicine in 1944. Dr. Arthur Steindler, the head of the department at the time, asked Ponseti to review the results of clubfoot surgeries being performed at the University of Iowa, and what he learned was not encouraging. He found that, in adulthood, former surgical patients often experienced foot stiffness, pain, arthritis, and limited mobility, and in many cases required additional surgery.
By studying the anatomy and functions of a baby's foot, Dr. Ponseti developed a non-surgical method to correct clubfoot in infants through gentle manipulation of the feet followed by the application of plaster casts. The success of the Ponseti Method has been well documented through patient studies and research articles.