S.M.B. Jayanthan, is one-and-a-half-years old. Born with congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV), commonly known as club foot, a disease that affects the shape or position of one or both feet.

Six months ago, Jayanthan was given supportive shoes by the Indian Red Cross Society, and today, he can take several independent steps on his own. His grandfather and mother are hoping, that with continued physiotherapy, Jayanthan will soon be able to run around on his own like other children his age.

When Jayanthan was born with the disease, his parents took him to the Institute of Child Health (ICH), Egmore, for treatment.

The ICH in turn, referred them to the Red Cross, which gives out orthotics or supportive shoes to help with the positioning of the deformed limb.

The on-call doctor at the artificial limb centre of the Red Cross Society in the city sees patients referred by other medical facilities from across the State, in need of complimentary artificial limbs and advises them on the type, design and size of limb required.

Technician Pratap Kumar, who has been making orthotic and prosthetics for upper and lower limbs for the past 29 years, then constructs the required artificial support as per the size and type prescribed by the doctor.

Another patient, seven-year-old P. Navin Raj, was born without a right leg and knee. With the aid of a prosthetic limb however, he can now walk around and is gradually getting better by the day at using the artificial limb.

While amputee cases receive between 10 and 15 days of physiotherapy, children suffering from neurological and muscular deformities can perform the given exercises at home.

According to the physiotherapist at the Red Cross, Dr. G. Theerthagiri, this therapy involves exercises that include electrical modalities to reduce the pain and strengthening exercises to prevent further deformity, along with gait training. The physiotherapy ward engages with approximately 850 cases monthly.

With the help of supportive devices supplied by the in-house orthotic and prosthetic lab of the Red Cross Society and proper physiotherapy, a large number of children from underprivileged backgrounds, with disorders such as cerebral palsy or CTEV can achieve independent mobility.

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Arita SarkarJune 28, 2012

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