Imagine trying to walk with feet that are twisted to face each other. That kind of disabling deformity rarely goes un-corrected in American babies, but that's not the case in some poorer countries. A medical team from our region is heading to an island off the coast of Africa to change that.
One in a thousand babies is born with club foot--the foot looks like it's been rotated at the ankle. In half of chldren with the deformity, both feet are affected.
If it's not treated, they walk on their ankles or sides of their feet. But thanks to Altoona Doctor Jack Rocco and his team some children in Madagascar are getting life-changing medical help.
The orthopedic surgeon put together the Operation Small Steps mission in 2011 and the group of doctors, nurses and techs from UPMC Altoona returned to Madagascar last year. They've performed more than 200 procedures, including 17 complex surgeries.
Dr. Rocco says,"the surgeries are the most impressive thing. When you see a child with a foot that's facing backward and we twist the sole on the floor that's impressive."
But Dr Rocco says most of the procedures involved putting a series of casts on the children to redirect their feet. The real mission of Operaiotn Small Steps is to teach doctors, nurses, technicians, and even mothers to cast the feet when the children are young so that they never need surgery.
Operation Small Steps will head back to Madagascar next June, but, the team could use your help to raise the funds. Roccotoberfest, which includes a band, food & drinks takes place Friday October 4, starting at 6pm at Altoona's Jaffa Shrine.
For more information, head to www.operationsmallsteps.org.