Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Special Needs Children with Club Feet
Club feet are a very common birth defect worldwide.
The figure ice-skater Kristi Yamaguchi was born with a clubfoot, and went on to win figure skating gold in 1992. The soccer star Mia Hamm was born with the condition. Baseball pitcher Larry Sherry was born with club feet, as was pitcher Jim Mecir, and both enjoyed long and successful careers. In fact, it was suggested in the book Moneyball that Mecir's club foot contributed to his success on the mound; it caused him to adopt a strange delivery that "put an especially violent spin" on his screwball, his specialty pitch. The San Francisco Giants held the record as the team with the all-time highest number of players with clubbed feet as of July 2010, and Freddy Sanchez, one of its infielders, cites his ability to overcome the defect as a reason for his success. Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints, born with a right club foot and no toes (this was his kicking foot), kicked an NFL record 63 yard field goal. This kick became famous as the longest regular-season NFL place-kick in history, a record that stood till 2009.
Club feet are often correctable largely through a process of "serial casting". Casts are placed on the feet and legs that gradually stretch the tendons and ligaments into more normal alignment. The process can take weeks or months. When casting fails to remedy the situation fully, surgery is sometimes required. Following surgery or casting a splint may need to be worn for up to 14 hours a day for several years to prevent the feet from turning again