Purpose: Non-compliance with foot abduction bracing in children with clubfeet treated with the Ponseti method is the leading risk factor for deformity recurrence. A dynamic foot abduction orthosis is believed to result in improved compliance, fewer skin complications, and fewer recurrences. A case-control trial was conducted to test this hypothesis.
Methods: A prospective cohort of children with idiopathic clubfoot using a dynamic brace was compared to a historical control group treated with a standard orthosis. Compliance, skin complications, recurrence, and the need for surgical soft tissue release were compared between groups at equivalent follow-up.
Results: The dynamic and standard brace groups are equivalent in age at the start of treatment (1.9 vs. 2.9 months), number of affected feet (97 vs. 92), and severity (average of four casts required for correction in each group). Fifty-seven children were followed in each group for an average of 2 years. All were corrected initially with the Ponseti method. Compliance is higher using the dynamic brace (47/57, 81%) compared to the standard brace (21/57, 47%) (P < 0.001). The recurrence rate is lower using the dynamic brace (11/57, 19%) compared to the standard brace (22/57, 39%) (P < 0.02). Skin complications are fewer in the dynamic brace (2/57, 3%) compared to the standard brace (11/57, 19%) (P < 0.008). Most importantly, five children using the standard brace underwent posteromedial release within 2 years of treatment, compared to none in the dynamic brace group.
Conclusion: The dynamic foot abduction brace results in improved compliance, fewer recurrences, fewer skin complications, and reduced rates of surgery in idiopathic clubfoot than the traditional brace after non-operative correction with the Ponseti method.