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Karen Moss: The clubfoot activist

Updated: May 13, 2019




Karen Moss @karenmaramoss is a social entrepreneur and the Founder of STEPS Clubfoot Care @steps_southafrica, a national and regional non-profit organisation that enhances the lives of children born with clubfoot. Karen started out her career as a magazine columnist and director of a media company that she founded together with her husband but her life changed completely with the birth of her son, Alex. Alex was born with bilateral clubfoot, a disabling birth defect in which one or both feet are turned inward and down, and which, if untreated, compels the victim to walk clumsily on the sides of their feet. At that point in time, treatment in South Africa generally entailed major invasive surgery that Karen did not want to submit their baby to. She immediately took to the internet to investigate alternative treatments, which led her to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital Ponseti website. It described a non-invasive treatment for clubfoot. Developed over 50 years, ago by Dr Ignacio Ponseti, the method was used successfully in 95% of all cases. After travelling halfway across the world with their 10 week old, and the successful treatment by Dr Ponseti himself, Karen founded STEPS in 2005 to introduce and promote the Ponseti Method of clubfoot treatment in Southern Africa and support families going through the process.

Clubfoot afflicts about 200 000 infants a year around the world, and about 2000 in South Africa alone. Many of the babies born with clubfoot live outside the main centres and treatment is not readily available to them. For Karen, this underscored the importance of getting these children the treatment they need for a full and active life. Today, Alex can walk, run and enjoy sports like any other normal teen without having undergone any invasive surgery.

We are inspired by Karen’s courage in following her intuition and search for alternative treatments of clubfoot and her commitment to paying it forward through sharing the success of the Ponseti method with Southern Africa (STEPS have clubfoot programmes in clinics in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania and Seychelles).

Featured artist: Stefania Origgi@stefania.origgi

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