IISc & CMC scientists design brace & app for kids with clubfoot, promising freedom from disability

New Delhi: Remember nine-year-old Philip Carey in ‘Of Human Bondage,’ Sommerset Maugham’s famous book? The disability of a clubfoot, the pain, and the resulting difficulty he faced in adjusting with other students in school stands out in the autobiographical novel. Now, researchers at Christian Medical College, Vellore and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore have jointly designed a clubfoot brace that can bring relief to the Philips of the world in the maintenance phase of their treatment.

Clubfoot is a congenital condition that causes a baby’s foot to turn inward or downward. It can be mild or severe and occur in one or both feet. In babies who have clubfoot, the tendons that connect their leg muscles to their heel are too short. These tight tendons cause the foot to twist out of shape. Clubfoot occurs in 2.5 per thousand live births and is one of the most common birth defects involving the musculoskeletal system.

The brace, called ‘Padma Pada’, designed by Dr. Vrisha Madhuri and Dr. NS Dinesh, monitors efficacy of brace wear by making sure that the sole of the child’s foot rests on the sole of the shoe which is fixed to the brace. This contact is evaluated by multiple sensors placed under the sole of the shoe on medial and lateral sides and the heel. This brace also allows the child to have several degrees of freedom in all four planes, thus making the brace more child friendly and tolerable.

IISCC1 | Indus Dictum
IISCC2 | Indus Dictum

Whereas existing braces fix both lower limbs of the child together and do not allow free mobility, Padma Pada allows free mobility of the lower limb and provides comfort to the child, and hence has proved to be more popular among children. Children do not refuse to wear them and hence the possibility of recurrence is reduced.

An added advantage of the new brace is a compliance monitoring device. Adherence to the brace wear protocol is monitored by recording this foot contact with sensors mounted on the electronic plate embedded in the sole. The data is logged every hour for a minimum of 3 months and can be downloaded using software designed by the originators. The shoe width and height in the Padma Pada have also been modified as per the foot size of Indian children.

A patent has been filed for the technology developed with the support of the Department of Science & Technology (DST). The unique feature of the Technology is its innovative mechanism of connecting rod with four bar linkage providing a high degree of freedom to the child’s lower limb in 3 planes. Also, acquisition of brace application data is done once every hour and this data is tagged with date and time information. Electronic hardware embedded in the shoes communicates data to a personal computer (PC) and the graphic user interface allows for interaction with a PC.

This information was provided by the Communications Team at the Dept. of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology.

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The ID Staff

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