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University of Iowa News Release


April 20, 2007

Ponseti Receives National Children's Miracle Network Award

Children's Miracle Network recently honored a revered and world-renowned physician affiliated with University of Iowa Children's Hospital in Iowa City during its national meeting in Orlando, Fla. for his pioneering work in the non-surgical treatment of clubfoot.

Ignacio Ponseti, M.D., professor emeritus of orthopaedics and rehabilitation in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, accepted the Children's Miracle Achievement Award during a special ceremony April 3.

Ponseti, 92, developed a non-surgical treatment for clubfoot more than 50 years ago that involves gentle, manual manipulation of the child's foot and application of toe-to-groin plaster casts. The casts are changed weekly after a clinician manipulates softened foot ligaments to gradually achieve near-normal muscle and bone alignment. Ponseti describes his method as "just gently bringing the foot, without hurting the child, back to normal." Following the casting process, a brace is used to keep the feet in the proper alignment.

Despite the success of the "Ponseti method," surgery remained the preferred treatment among orthopaedic specialists for decades. However, research showed that people who underwent surgical correction of clubfoot as children often experienced stiff, painful feet as young adults, severely limiting their mobility and adversely affecting their quality of life.

In recent years the Ponseti method has revolutionized the treatment for clubfoot. It also holds promise for 90 percent of children born with clubfoot in underdeveloped regions of the world. Ponseti remains active with teaching his method to other health care providers across the globe and continues to see patients in his clinic several days a week.

"It's such a beautiful thing to see a crippled baby and be able to heal him," said Ponseti, who keeps a photo album of many of the 150,000 babies he has treated. "They come and they run and they send me cards."

"I have never known such a generous physician, so passionate about the well-being of his patients, so determined to eliminate needless suffering," said Teresa Audilet of Greensboro, N.C., whose daughter's life was transformed by Ponseti's care.

Joseph Buckwalter, M.D., professor and head of the UI Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, praised the selection of Ponseti for the prestigious award.

"Thanks to Dr. Ponseti's innovative research, children who would otherwise be crippled as adults can live normal lives," Buckwalter said. "The fact that as he approaches his 93rd birthday and the 66th anniversary of the beginning of his service to Iowans, coupled with the fact that he is still treating patients, demonstrate his high level of devotion to children and their families. He is indeed a miracle worker."

Michael Artman, M.D., professor and head of the UI Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief at UI Children's Hospital, added, "It would be very difficult to find anyone more deserving of this award than Dr. Ponseti. He is truly remarkable, and we are delighted to see him receive this most fitting tribute."

Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Children's Miracle Network is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to generating funds and awareness programs to benefit children treated at 170 children's hospitals throughout the United States and Canada. Children's Miracle Network's hallmark is that locally generated donations stay in the local area to benefit patients at the local children's hospital. Children's Miracle Network also includes 75 corporate sponsors, 200 television stations and more than 135 radio stations.

UI Children's Hospital serves children and their families at its main campus in Iowa City and satellite clinics in communities throughout Iowa. A 165-bed "hospital within a hospital," University of Iowa Children's Hospital benefits from the sophisticated services and comprehensive resources of UI Hospitals and Clinics. Child magazine ranks UI Children's Hospital among the top 20 children's hospitals in the nation.

STORY SOURCE: Joint Office for Marketing and Communications, University of Iowa Health Care, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,