Henry’s story – from birth to boots and bar
Hi there, I’m Sarah and I work at Alder Hey. I’m also a mum to twins – Henry and Melissa. Henry was born with bilateral talipes (club feet) and has been a regular visitor to hospital ever since. I wanted to share Henry’s story in a series of blogs to help other parents in similar situations, and to raise awareness of the condition.
Henry has recently had surgery, but first I wanted to tell you about how we got to this stage.
Henry and Melissa were born in October 2006 and I had been given an antenatal diagnosis of bilateral talipes (club feet) at my 20 week scan. Henry was transferred from the Liverpool Women’s Hospital to Alder Hey at one week old to begin treatment on his feet, known as the Ponseti Treatment with Mr Garg, one of Alder Hey’s Orthopaedic Consultants.
Henry had weekly physiotherapy on his feet with Peter Beirne after which a plaster cast was put on each leg right up to his nappy – this ensured the gradual manipulation of his feet were maintained. After about seven repeated weekly casts (at which point we knew all the staff in the plaster room!) Henry was admitted for an operation to nick the tendons at the back of his ankles and then went back into plaster for three weeks.
Boots and bar
When the final plasters were removed, Henry’s feet were pointing in the right direction which was a huge relief, but his skin was dry and flaky from all the plaster casts. He was fitted for boots and bar that were to be worn 23 and a half hours a day for approximately 3 months – we could take them off for bath time. Looking back I think that was the hardest part of his treatment. Trying to get his little feet into those small boots when his skin was red raw and he was crying was really hard. But we had been warned that in order to maintain the position of his feet we had to make sure the boots and bar were on at all times. We received a lot of bruises from the boots and bar, from Henry thrashing his legs around while changing his nappy and trying to dress him!
Eventually the boots and bar only needed to be worn at nap time and at night time and that continued until Henry was four years old. The boots and bar never seemed to bother Henry – as a baby and when older, he would still move his legs a lot with the bar on and as a result developed really good stomach muscles (and managed to scrap the paint off the walls by his bed!).
When he was able to stop wearing the boots and bar, it felt strange initially, as he had been having some form of treatment since he was one week old. Putting his boots and bar on had become part of Henry’s bed time routine. After everything Henry had been through though, it was nice thinking his treatment had finished and been successful.
In 2011 Henry and Melissa started school, and it was not long after that we noticed that Henry was struggling to get his right heel down on the floor. We saw Mr Garg again and were advised to try repeated plastering again on the right leg. Henry obviously didn’t remember the staff in the plaster room, but they remembered him and made a fuss over him – Henry looked forward to his weekly visits. His plaster also proved popular in school as his friends were able to draw on it!
Taking the next steps
After the plasters Henry went to wearing splints – ankle foot orthosis (AFO) – that were moulded to fit Henry perfectly and he got to pick the design (red with footballs!!). Henry wore his splints during the day, and this continued until late 2012 when he was reviewed again in Mr Garg’s clinic. His left foot was fine, but his right foot was still not right – we were told to stop using the splints and see how things went over the following months, but it was made clear that the next stage would involve surgery.
Henry’s story continues next Friday. Sarah is telling hers and Henry’s story to help raise awareness of Bilateral Talipes. If you enjoyed reading this, or if you are a parent in a similar situation, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.