What is club foot? The condition new Love Islander Hugo Hammond was born with

The condition affects around one in every 1,000 babies born

Ellie Abraham@ellieabraham
Monday 05 July 2021 08:56
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Love Island 2021 marks the first time the villa has featured a contestant with a physical disability.

PE teacher Hugo Hammond has been seen on the ITV reality dating show as the first ever disabled contestant. Having been born with club foot, Hammond underwent several operations as a child.

Now, he plays cricket, previously for England Physical Disability cricket and now with Hartley Wintney Cricket Club, and is also a PE teacher at a secondary school.

Hammond says that today, you can only notice his disability when he walks barefoot due to his short Achilles heel.

But what is the condition club foot?

What is club foot?

Club foot, which is also known as talipes, is a condition in which a baby’s foot or both feet turn in and under, according to the NHS.

The condition is more common in boys and occurs when the large Achilles tendon, which runs up the back of your ankle, is too short.

The NHS says around one baby in every 1,000 will be born with club foot and in around half of them, it will affect both feet.

Though it’s not painful for babies, it can cause problems with walking as they grow up if left untreated.

How is it diagnosed?

Club foot is most often diagnosed once a baby is born, but it can be spotted in an ultrasound between 18 and 21 weeks.

For some babies whose feet were squashed in an unusual position in the womb, their feet can correct themselves within three months.

Though some may need additional treatment to reposition their feet, the NHS says.

What are the treatment options?

As club foot can become painful and cause difficulty walking in future, treatments can be given to improve the severity of the condition.

Treatment typically begins within one to two weeks of a baby being born.

According to the NHS, the main type of treatment given is known as the Ponseti method. It involves gentle manipulation and stretching of the affected foot to place it into a better position. It is then put into a caste.

The procedure is re-done every week for up to two months, after which most babies need an operation on their Achilles tendon to loosen it.

Hammond revealed that he had to have multiple operations as a child.

He said: “I was born with clubfoot. I had lots of operations when I was a kid. You can only really tell when I walk barefoot. I’ve got a really short Achilles heel. I walk slightly on my tip toes.”

Following treatment, children need to wear special boots that hold their feet in place, until they’re about 4 or 5, to prevent the club foot from returning.

How successful is the treatment?

The NHS says almost all children born with club foot are treated successfully, though relapses can occur after treatment if it was not followed exactly.

Children can occasionally be left with one leg slightly shorter than the other and a slightly smaller foot on the affected side. It can leave these children feeling more physically tired than others.

For most, the condition won’t affect their ability to walk and participate in physical activity in the long term.

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