In 2013, MiracleFeet set out to design a clubfoot brace that was affordable, durable, and easy to use. After two years of collaborating with Suncast, Clarks Shoes, and the d.school at Stanford, the MiracleFeet brace was ready to be shipped to partner clinics. Since that rollout in 2015, we have shipped 10,764 pairs of shoes and 6,440 bars to fifteen partners around the world.
Addressing New Challenges
The bracing phase can last up to four years and wearing the brace as prescribed is the biggest predictor of successful treatment, so making sure the brace meets the needs of patients and clinicians alike is vital.
When clinic coordinators and doctors at our partner organizations began sharing with us that a smaller shoe and bar size would help them better treat newborn patients, we decided to explore their request. Treating children with clubfoot as soon as possible after birth is a high priority for MiracleFeet, because it has been shown to improve the chance that their feet will remain corrected and they will not experience pain or discomfort.
A 2017 article from the Journal of Clinical Orthopaedics and Trauma solidified this need. The study showed that the Steebeek Foot Abduction Brace (SFAB), a commonly-used brace in low-income countries which had been developed based on children in Africa, was proving to be slightly too large for babies receiving clubfoot treatment in India, as the Indian babies’ skeletal systems were smaller. Thus, a slightly shorter bar, one that would match the hip width distance of the babies with smaller frames, was needed.
Smaller Bars and Shoes Developed
Last year, in collaboration with Suncast and Fortune Footwear, we began developing a prototype for a shorter bar and a smaller shoe than the ones currently made. The result will be an interchangeable shoe and bar combination that will provide our partners with more options when treating children born with clubfoot – not just in India, but throughout the 25 countries where we work with local partners. With the ability to swap out and change size combinations, the MiracleFeet brace is proving a versatile solution to the challenge of treating clubfoot in low-resource settings.
The smaller “size zero” shoe will be available this spring in clinics and the smaller bar is estimated to be ready for distribution in late 2019.