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Manchester medics help children to step out

Children around the world born with clubfeet will benefit from expertise developed in Manchester and shared with over 130 delegates at the 4th Manchester International Clubfoot Conference (11-13 November). Clubfoot is a congenital deformity found in newborn children which causes the feet to point down and inwards. One in 1,000 babies suffers from the condition, which affects their mobility. Naomi Davis, a consultant in paediatric orthopaedic surgery at Booth Hall Children's Hospital, has trained in the Ponseti Method of treating clubfoot, which involves using a series of plaster casts plus minor tendon surgery and night time splints to treat very young babies with the condition. She set up the Manchester Ponseti Clinic in 2002, which has now treated more than 250 patients. The Ponseti Method was pioneered by Dr Ignacio Ponseti in Iowa City in the 1960s. The growing expertise of the team at Booth Hall has led to it becoming one of only three UK centres to deal with complex clubfoot cases, and it now treats patients from all over the world. Keen to share their experience, the Manchester Ponseti Clinic team are running the 4th Manchester International Clubfoot Conference at the Lowry Arts Centre. Delegates includes surgeons, doctors and researchers from Europe, Scandinavia, North America, Afghanistan and Laos. Among the keynote speakers is Professor Shafique Pirani, who has worked extensively with the Ponseti method in Uganda and other areas of the developing world. The conference will include basic and advanced training sessions, plus a day focusing on global issues in treating clubfoot. Delegates will also meet patients and see a plaster cast being put on a baby. Commented Naomi Davis: "A key part of our work is sharing expertise with colleagues, which we do via the Ponseti Users Group we have set up and through training events we run in hospitals around the UK. The conference is a great opportunity to work with international colleagues to refine our skills and knowledge." Thanks to support from parents, the Booth Hall team has also been able to start a charity, Both Feet Forward. This supports local treatment, research and development work and also provides help to doctors working overseas, including units in Laos, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, South Africa, Ethiopia and Australia. The conference was opened by Peter Mount, chairman of the Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals NHS Trust. "We are tremendously proud of the achievements of Naomi and her team, who have become world class players in treating clubfoot. Their skills and teaching work have made a significant difference to the lives of many children around the world," he said.