Six-year-old Emma from Preston has been receiving care at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital since she was four-months-old. Here her mum Lucy tells us why.
When I had my 20-week scan we could see that something wasn’t right with the baby’s feet and we were told that our daughter would be born with Talipes, a deformity in which the foot is twisted in. My world was turned upside, I was in complete shock and we underwent further testing to see if there was any other condition our baby may have.
We were told that the Talipes scale went from one to six, with six being the most severe, and it was likely that Emma would be a five on the scale.
Two weeks after she was due, our gorgeous little girl was born, she was fine apart from her feet, which were actually 5.5 on the scale. Staff at our local hospital told us it was the most severe case they had ever seen.
At three-weeks-old Emma started treatment which involved wearing casts, having her feet manipulated, and working with a Physiotherapist. When Emma was a few months old, the Physio took us to one side and said she’d really like to refer us to Naomi Davis, a leading specialist in Talipes at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. We were hesitant at first as Emma was doing fine at our local hospital but we agreed.
At four months old Emma visited the Children’s Hospital for the first time – listening to the Physio was the best thing we have ever done. We were told Emma required a Tenotomy – which would lengthen her Achilles Tendon and really help with the position of her feet.
At five-months-old, Emma started the next phase of her treatment that meant she had to wear a ponsettit brace – known as boots and bar, which kept her feet in a fixed position for 23 hours a day.
We were told that the boots and bar may hinder her a little and that she may find it more difficult to crawl so I was delighted when Emma crawled with the boots on, just before she turned seven-months. It felt like nothing could keep her back and she continued to amaze us, learning to cruise and stand with her boots and braces on.
Three months later, the amount of time Emma spent in the boots and bar was reduced to 12 hours a day, which we did from 6pm in the evening to 6am in the morning.
At 15-months-old my daughter achieved something which I thought I would have to wait a long time for – she took her first steps and I cried tears of joy and pride.
Emma continued to have check- ups and her feet positioned and she continued to wear braces. We knew something else would need to be done for her movement and positioning as by this stage Emma had grown 11cm in height meaning that her bones and tendons had grown quickly too.
Emma had to undergo a double procedure, partly a repeat of the first surgery she had where they lengthened the Achilles Tendon. She also had an Anterior Tibialis tendon transfer, which meant she had her tendon rerouted on the top of her foot.
Following the operation Emma was put into plaster for four weeks and when she was discharged she had to use a walking frame and when she came out of her plaster, wear a splint on her right leg.
Having to wear splints can hinder Emma, especially during PE at school, as they stop her feet bending which means she can’t do everything the other children do but she does her best to carry on as normal and not to let them stand in her way, and she won’t always need to wear splints.
My daughter has incredible strength of character to face the hurdles that having Talipes brings and the hospital staff do all that they can to help her. Emma will be under the care of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital until she is an adult and that is just fine with us - the staff are fantastic and her consultant, Naomi Davis, is a hero as far as we’re concerned.