A Year's Worth of Splints

In the last year, Ellie has gone through lots & lots & lots of splints as we've participated in the French Method of Physiotherapy.

 I would count them but I don't really care that much to know an exact number.  I'm content to live the rest of my days not knowing, in fact.

Here's her very first pair (on the left) made at 6 days old, and her current pair - made at 13 months old.
 Look how tiny those were!  And how much correction we've made!

Sweet Ellie Girl
 happy as can be surrounded by all that hard work 
and this photo has nothing to do with splints... I just love it & I adore her.
Curious why we chose the French Method over the Ponsetti Method?
Basically, for a few reasons.
1) It gave us more flexibility in terms of bathing & swimming - things I really enjoy doing with my children & didn't want to be limited to 1x/week.
This statement might not make sense at all - unless you are the parent of a child with special needs or a disability:
I wanted to cling to something "normal."
At first glance, putting your child in splints for up to 24 hours a day & taping your child's legs almost daily might not seem normal.
But, bathing your baby is.  And swimming with your baby is.  And not avoiding places where they might get sweaty is.  And we have a lot of atypical in our lives.  We have lots of specialists whom we know really well.  We have therapists galore.  I spend time dealing with insurance companies and I order products from special needs adaptive equipment catalogs.  I answer really hard questions from my four year old.  Really hard.
So yeah.  Maybe the taping is extremely parent intensive (it is.)  And the therapies and stretches can be time consuming.  But.  I get to bathe my baby whenever I feel like it.
And yesterday, I took the kids for an evening swim and as she repeatedly giggled and said "yes" every time I asked if she wanted to "jump" in from the side and she went underwater and swam ... it's so worth it.  It's a little bit of normal.  And sometimes, I cling to whatever I can get of just being a typical mommy who spends time bathing her baby.

2)With Ellie's underlying condition (AMC) the Ponsetti is rarely a one time only solution - it usually requires that it be repeated numerous times over the course of a childhood.  I couldn't do that to myself.  Plus, a lot of times, a baby with AMC tries the Ponsetti Method & doesn't have much success & ends up in the French Method anyway.

3) At the time of her birth, we lived 6 hours away  from the hospital.  It didn't make sense for us to try to fly back once a week for casting with the Ponsetti Method.  This would have cost a small fortune and have been very time consuming on Ellie & I.  Plus, she wouldn't have been able to fly anyway for 6 weeks & we really didn't want to expose her to airplane germs/recirculating air a ton as an infant anyway.  So, for those first 6 weeks, I would have been driving 6+hours each way every week.  With stopping to nurse, that would have taken me 8+ hours... & I would have hated putting a baby in fresh casts back into a carseat for a long trip home... and because no way could I have done that in one day, I would end up staying overnight every week & so, as we factored all these costs & spoke with various nurses, doctors, & physical therapists whom we trust, we chose to go with the French Method & stayed in Dallas for 12 weeks immediately after her birth.  After that, our visits became less frequent and we were able to fly or drive for the remainder.  Currently, we're seeing if Ellie can go an entire month between splints!!!  (Don't worry - we still have some other appointments to keep us busy in the meantime.)

4) the Bar.  I just didn't want her in that bar thing that babies go into after the Ponsetti.  Now, if Ellie didn't have AMC, I might not really care.  But the idea of doing the bar multiple times during her infancy... I just couldn't do it.  And I want her legs to get movement so splints offer us mobility practice.  One of the hardest things for me with the spica cast for 3 months was not feeling her skin & having Ellie's body in the same, awkward position the entire time.  I wanted to be able to cuddle her easily and didn't want the bar in the way.  Again, if all I was dealing with was club feet, this might not have bothered me so much but knowing there was a spica season looming in our future and other surgeries requiring casts, I just wanted her in a more natural position.  Plus, the splints provide opportunities for her to gain sensory skills as she can feel things with her toes and legs when I remove the splints.  Recently, she discovered her feet on the changing table - because her legs are not weighed down with casts or stuck in a bar.

From what I have researched, the Ponsetti and the French Method are comparable as far as results.  We are open to both methods but chose to go with the FM for a variety of factors and because we felt like it was the best option for our family.  I recognize that many hospitals do not even offer the FM because it is not considered cost effective so we are thankful we were given the choice.

So- now you know. :)

1 thoughts:

Kelly said...

I am smiling at the fact that you have kept every set of splints that you have had! Love seeing Ellie smiling and laying in the huge pile of them! Way to go Ellie!

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