Royal Free patient's birthday delight at successful end of club feet treatment

Senara Gunawardene with the braces and bar which have helped correct her club feet

Senara Gunawardene with the braces and bar which have helped correct her club feet - Credit: Royal Free

Senara Gunawardene's fifth birthday is more special than most - it is also the day she is finally free of the braces and boots which have helped correct her club feet since she was 10 days old.

Senara, born on June 18, 2016, was diagnosed with talipes - club feet - shortly before she was born. 

Although her mum Suwani was worried, her daughter has been in the care of a skilled team of doctors, nurses and physios at the Royal Free. 

The Royal Free's Ponseti team who have corrected Senara Gunawardene's club feet

The Royal Free's Ponseti team who have corrected Senara Gunawardene's club feet - Credit: Royal Free

The team employ the "gold standard" Ponseti method to treat talipes. This is involves using plaster casts to manipulate a child's feet into better positions over weeks, months and years. 

As a baby, Senara also had a "tendon release" operation, to help the process.


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Suwani said: “Senara’s feet were the first thing I saw and, even though I knew what it was going to be like and it was bearable, it was of course still a real shock.”

She has had to follow a complicated regiment with the casts for several years, and then she has had to wear the boots and a bar to continue the process.

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Suwani said the first time Senara had to wear the boots and bar had been the hardest moment - and it involved 48 hours of tears.

She added: “Nikki and the team were incredibly helpful – I could call them at any time, sometimes that was at 11pm at night. I also appreciated that the consultant Olivia always took the trouble to come to the physio appointments.”

Senara is excited about being able to live a more normal childhood, too.

She said: “I’m looking forward to being able to go to my friends for sleepovers which I haven’t been able to do before.”

Nikki Shack, the specialist physio who's helped the family, said: "We’re so pleased for Senara that she has completed the treatment.

"It’s always incredibly rewarding and touching to see the results of all the hard work put in by the children and their parents. We can’t help getting close to our families and our team feels like we have the best job in the world.”

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