The Snyder Family Experience
The doctor entered our room after the birth of our son, Ross, on October 20, 1956. He didn't allow me to see our newborn. He asked for my husband to come into the room. "Your baby has bad feet, and if he does not have them corrected, he will never be able to walk," the gentleman in the long white coat explained.
It's very difficult when you discover your child has a deformity. Our world was turned upside down. We were devastated. Without hesitation the doctor said, "I can send you to the Mayo Clinic, or Iowa City. I know someone in Iowa City that I would like for you to meet." That is when we learned of Dr. Ignacio Ponseti and the Ponseti Method.
Ten days later we were on our way to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. After meeting with Dr. Ponseti, we decided to begin the treatment. The procedure was carried out in such a gentle and painless manner that no anesthesia was necessary. I do not recall any incident when Ross cried as a result of the manipulations. This was so because his young ligaments, cartilage and bones were still malleable, and could turn any way Dr. Ponseti needed. The procedure consisted of manipulations and castings in a progressive manner - a little bit at a time. As a result, Ross didn't fuss over the manipulations. He wasn't bothered by the casts either, since they were very lightweight.
After his fourth and final casts were applied, I was shocked because I noticed Ross'foot was pointing straight outward due to the cast. Dr. Ponseti placed it clear out to the side. I said, "This is not normal - a foot out like this." Dr. Ponseti informed me that you have to place the foot outward in an overcorrected position to counter the foot's tendency to twist inwards again.
After the fourth casts were removed, I really noticed the change in the shape of Ross' feet. They looked normal.
The final step of the correction process was the splints on shoes. The shoes were attached at the ends of a metal splint. I recall when he first went into his splints that it was very difficult because he had to learn to use both legs together at the same time while maneuvering the shoes and bar. The first two nights were very rough because he couldn't turn over easily. Following those two nights, however, it was like they were part of him. He learned to use his legs to maneuver himself.
After three or four months of wearing the shoes for twenty-four hours a day, Ross only wore them at night and during naps. This was just part of the ritual of going to bed, or going to sleep - we just put the shoes on. So, it wasn't really a problem for Ross.
What upsets me is that there are parents who disregard the shoes and then their child has a relapse and they have to start over!!
Currently, Ross is a pharmacist, and has been for sixteen years. He says, "We stand for about nine hours a day. I don't have any foot pain. For recreational activity, I like to jog. I currently run about four miles every other day. The shoes that I wear are just a regular pair of Asics running shoes. I've run a 5K. Three years ago I ran the BIX SEVEN, which is a race in Davenport, Iowa."
"As far as I'm concerned, my feet are normal." I wear regular shoes from the shoe store - no orthotics, air cushions or insoles. The wear on them, I feel, is normal. I replace them when they wear out, but I can't recall really having a pair of shoes that hurt my feet, or having pain due to the clubfeet."
Ross' mother says, "This correction did not take all that long. At the time, it probably seemed like an eternity to us, but then you think that it's a matter of just a few weeks that he was in the casts. He was in the shoe-bar for a few years, but that was only when he was sleeping. We are so grateful that all of his was available to us forty-three years ago. Thank you Dr. Ponseti and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics."
Ross Snyder, age 43
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