Children born with talipes, a rare condition that affects one or both feet, were given a Christmas boost with a party at North Devon District Hospital.
Staff from Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust organised the party so that affected families could meet up in a relaxed environment to share their experiences and discuss their problems and successes.
Lis Harvey-Bryant, specialist physiotherapist at the Trust, said: “This is particularly helpful for families with little ones newly diagnosed who are just beginning treatment.
“Following the success of the party, the families have set up their own support network on Facebook.”
Talipes –congenital talipes equinovarus in full and also known as club foot – affects around one in 1,000 babies. On average, two children are born in North Devon each year with talipes.
The condition causes the foot to twist inwards and point downwards at birth, resulting in the bones of the feet being abnormally shaped. Treatment starts within the first few weeks of birth and sometimes a surgical procedure is necessary.
Lis said: “This whole process can be stressful for families and there can be the feeling that you are the only ones experiencing this.
“We try hard to support families through this journey and put them in touch with other families to provide help.”
One of the affected parents is Ken Stafford, head of learning technology for the Trust, whose six-year-old daughter is currently receiving treatment at NDDH.
Ken said: “We are grateful that the Trust is so proactive in handling this condition.
“We have received amazing support from the orthopaedic team who have treated our daughter’s talipes. Her condition was picked up immediately after birth and treatment began the very next day.
“Our daughter’s treatment has been very successful to date and she has led a perfectly normal life so far, achieving all the childhood milestones.
“The Christmas party was very successful and it was nice to meet other families in a similar situation. The support group is really beneficial and we look forward to staying in touch.”