I was set 3 exercises to work with Theo from our first Physiotherapy session. We did it with him everyday but as the days went by, we had many questions for the therapist.
1. How many minutes a day should we be stretching his feet bearing in mind a toddler won’t sit still for long periods of time for you to twist and turn their feet in weird angles even if it’s not uncomfortable?
Answer: Approximately 15 minutes
2. What sort of activities can we do with Theo on top of the stretches to help him develop stronger muscles?
Answer: Lots of climbing, feet in sand and if he likes running, continue running! At such a young age, the goal is to stretch the muscles. But as Theo gets older, he can do more training exercises.
3. Is his right foot worse than his left because he seems to resist me flexing it inwards but not on the other side?
Answer: Quite normal to have one stronger than the other. But Theo wasn’t resisting during the session and the therapist was actually really impressed by how far back she could flex his right foot. She doesn’t think it’s an issue.
I’m glad that he has Physiotherapy now because each session is about 30-45minutes long which gives me ample time to ask questions.
Today, we worked on his feet while Theo was on his tummy. This is apparently a tricky position because most kids just won’t want to lie on their front willingly. This exercise is similar to what I learnt last week except that lying on his tummy OPENS his hips. The way the boots and bar hold his feet means that his hip rotation is limited. Therefore such exercises help prevent hip issues which can occur with clubfoot children.
The second exercise I have to do with him this week (no photos because I had to distract Theo and listen to the therapist at the same time) also involves him being on his tummy. Instead of having his feet like the above picture, I’ll have to flex them TOWARDS his shin (that position that he usually resists when sitting up right). In addition to the flexing, I’ll have to stretch out his tendons (where he was operated on, so I can’t miss that point!) by moving it left and right, up and down.
By putting my leg gently on his bottom, it helps ensure that his hips are open.
Another tip that the therapist gave me was that it’s actually good for Theo to sit ON his feet (not frog style with feet facing outwards behind him) like the Japanese style. His feet will be in a bent downwards position which helps the “walking forwards” movement. Geeezzz… I never had to think so much about how we move our feet when we walk!
We have 4 more sessions to go and I’m not exactly sure what happens after that. The clinic is in Bad Vilbel and it takes an hour door to door which isn’t too bad, really. What annoys me slightly is that we have to cross an old metal bridge that not only has gaps between steps, but each step has a grid (with little holes) hence as I walk up, I actually see myself getting higher and higher. It is totally not barrier-free so I have to rely on others to either help carry the stroller or hold Theo’s hands to cross over to the platform to get home. Oh, it’s not exactly the busiest station either. Then again, I read stories of people who walk like 6 hours to get to a clubfoot clinic in third-world countries and I think to myself “What are you complaining about?”