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News Tuesday, October 17, 2017 Saturday, November 11, 2017 7:22 PM - Saturday, November 11, 2017 7:22 PM

Club feet internet search leads mom to seek care at the Lexington Shriners Medical Center

Hayden wears orthoses full-time to treat bilateral club feet

Hayden as a babyDuring her 20-week ultrasound, Dawn was told that her son, Hayden, would be born with club feet. She was terrified, confused and did what most mothers in that situation would do...she researched and researched and researched. She wanted to be as prepared as possible when Hayden was delivered so that he could begin immediately receiving the medical care needed. At this time Dawn was living on Prince Edward Island and the closest hospital treating club feet was located five hours away in Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, after many unsuccessful attempts at casting, Dawn went back to the internet to try and find another solution. Her research led her to the Ponsenti method of treatment, which in turn led her to Vish Talwalkar, M.D., pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington.

Dawn took a chance and emailed Dr. Talwalkar. "I didn't really expect a reply, but I got one! He was so kind, warm and reassuring," said Dawn of Dr. Talwalkar's email response. "He took the time to explain club feet and what he perceived to be Hayden's condition. He invited me to contact Lexington Shriners Medical Center. Being a Kentucky native, I did just that and he became Hayden's doctor."

Hayden was 3 months old when he and his mother arrived for his first appointment at Shriners Medical Center with Dr. Talwalkar. Dr. Talwalkar diagnosed Hayden with bilateral atypical club feet. Clubfoot is one of the most common birth defects and boys are affected with clubfoot twice as often as girls. Clubfoot is when the foot tilts inward and upward at the ankle. A small number of clubfoot cases can be classified as atypical or complex, and are more difficult to treat.

Dr. Talwalkar has performed four surgeries on Hayden to date. Soon after arriving for his first appointment, Hayden had his first surgery. Two years ago, he experienced a relapse and had to undergo a series of three additional surgeries. "He is the most resilient kid I have ever met. He has been through so much. Each part of the journey has had its own unique set of challenges," said Dawn.

Hayden following surgeryAt the age of 9, Hayden has been through every department at Lexington Shriners Medical Center as he continues to receive regular and specialized medical care. Throughout Hayden's life, he has received casting; X-rays; studies performed in the motion analysis center, including foot pressure analysis and physical therapy; and several ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) from the Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS) – Midwest, LLC department located within Lexington Shriners Medical Center. Hayden wears AFOs full time and has been instructed to do so for the foreseeable future as Dr. Talwalkar continues to monitor his progress in hopes that the club feet will not relapse again.

AFOsAFOs are orthoses or braces made out of plastic. The POPS department at Lexington Shriners Medical Center makes each AFO unique and specific to the individual patient. Patients can select their own design and Hayden has gone through many! As patients continue to grow, undergo surgeries and stay active, they can require new or modified versions of AFOs. The AFO is designed to encompass the ankle joint and all or part of the foot. AFOs are externally applied, and are intended to control position and motion of the ankle. 

"Hayden has confidence and belief in himself. He does not see himself different or less than any other child," said Dawn. "He proudly shows off his AFOs and will gladly explain why he wears them. He knows he is blessed and a part of something very special."

There was a time in Hayden's life when Dawn was not sure that Hayden would ever walk. Through the support of family and the staff and doctors at Lexington Shriners Medical Center, Hayden has truly experienced "no limits!" He currently walks, runs, climbs, plays soccer and practices Jiu Jitsu. He is also a proud Cub Scout. "This stuff probably doesn't sound like much to people who take these simple daily activities for granted," said Dawn. "But it means the world to us that Shriners Medical Center and Dr. Talwalkar have made it possible for him to do these things."

Hayden is a smart student currently in the third grade with big plans for his future. He already knows what he wants to become when he grows up. "I want to be a doctor to help kids like me. Dr. Talwalkar is my superhero and I want to be just like him!" said Hayden with a strong and confident voice. 

"It is overwhelming and scary when you first learn that there is something going on with your baby or child. I promise you that the moment you enter the doors of Shriners Hospitals, you will be surrounded by love and compassion. All your fears just melt away," said Dawn. 

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