Gross Motor Function at 10 Years of Age in Children With Clubfoot Following the French Physical Therapy Method and the Ponseti Technique

J Pediatr Orthop. 2018 Oct;38(9):e519-e523. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000001218.


Purpose: To evaluate gross motor skills [Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, 2nd ed (BOT-2)] of patients with idiopathic clubfoot initially treated nonoperatively with either the French functional physical therapy (PT) method or the Ponseti technique, at age 10 years.

Methods: The BOT-2 was administered by trained physical therapists on patients with idiopathic clubfoot at age 10 years. The cohort was divided by initial treatment method (PT or Ponseti), and compared. Subsequent analyses included comparisons of: initial clubfoot severity (Dimeglio scores: ≤13 vs. >13), laterality (unilateral vs. bilateral), and surgical versus nonoperative outcome.

Results: Of the 183 patients tested, 172 were included. The Ponseti and PT groups did not significantly differ according to age, height, weight, body mass index, ankle dorsiflexion, sex, average initial Dimeglio score, laterality, or surgical versus nonsurgical outcome. Overall, patients with treated clubfoot had average gross motor BOT-2 scores compared with age-matched peers. Patients in the PT group scored higher on Running Speed/Agility (P=0.019), Body Coordination percentile rank (P=0.038), and Strength and Agility percentile rank (P=0.007) than patients treated by the Ponseti technique. Patients with bilateral clubfoot scored significantly lower on the Balance subtest (P<0.01), and Body Coordination percentile rank (P<0.01), than those with unilateral clubfoot. Patients who required surgery scored significantly lower on the Balance subtest (P=0.04) than those who did not require surgery.

Conclusions: Clubfoot may impair balance in 10 year olds with bilateral involvement and those requiring surgery. Future research should evaluate whether components of the PT method may improve gross motor outcomes as a supplement to the Ponseti technique.

Levels of evidence: Level II.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Casts, Surgical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Clubfoot / classification
  • Clubfoot / rehabilitation
  • Clubfoot / therapy*
  • Female
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Orthopedic Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Postural Balance*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome