15 year old ‘karate kid’ with clubfoot achieves black belt | Latest news

15 year old ‘karate kid’ with clubfoot achieves black belt

A 15 year old from West Yorkshire, born with clubfoot deformities, has gone on to achieve a black belt in taekwondo.

Clubfoot is a congenital deformity of the foot that occurs in about 200,000 babies each year worldwide. Clubfoot results from the abnormal development of the muscles, tendons, and bones in the foot while the fetus is forming during pregnancy.

Lewis Wiggins, was born with severe clubfoot (also known as talipes) and was one of the first babies to have the Ponseti treatment for clubfoot deformities at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. The Ponseti method is a manipulative technique that corrects congenital clubfoot without invasive surgery.

Orthopaedic Consultant Mr Nirmal Tulwa, from Pinderfields Hospital, recommended the ponseti method to the family for treatment of Lewis’s foot.

In June this year, Lewis, who is now 15 years old, achieved his black belt in Taekwondo - the grading of which consisting of an intensive three hour physical test.

Lewis’s dad, Carl Wiggins, said “This was beyond our wildest dreams when he was undergoing his treatment as a baby, at which time we were hoping he could walk with a natural gait.  I can’t thank Mr Tulwa and his team enough, they removed the barriers to Lewis having a normal life as possible. We want to reassure and let other parents know about the amazing outcomes which can be achieved from Ponseti treatment using Lewis's example.”

Orthopaedic Consultant Mr Nirmal Tulwa, from Pinderfields Hospital, said “We are delighted to hear that Lewis has reached such a fantastic achievement both physically and mentally. During the treatment Lewis was a very patient and brave baby. Most of all, this treatment demands great compliance and trust from the parents regarding hospital attendances and perseverance in the use of splints during the early years. This result is a credit to the efforts that Lewis’s parents have invested in.”

Orthopaedics team

The Ponseti treatment is now the gold standard for treatment of babies with clubfoot deformity. Prior to that surgery was the norm. It was extensive and although it corrected the feet, the scarring caused stiffness. The aim of the treatment is for a supple and pain free foot, with normal function and use of normal footwear.

The treatment usually starts 1-2 weeks after birth and involves a weekly attendance at the ponseti clinic .This is centralised at Pinderfields Hospital with a multidisciplinary team, consisting of a surgeon, physiotherapist, orthotist and plaster technician in a regular Tuesday afternoon clinic.

The weekly plaster cast change is usually over 6-8 weeks and usually by 6 months of age, the baby will be wearing the splint at night-time only. These children are then monitored periodically, usually into their teens.

Lewis Wiggins

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust currently treat 12-15 babies with clubfoot a year.

The Trust have a direct referral from the maternity teams to plan an early start of treatment. This setup helps to reassure the family and allows early engagement for a process that will mean a lot for the new-born child.