5-year-old Blessings lives with his parents in Dedza, a couple of hours drive south of Lilongwe. When he was two, he contracted Malaria. Although he recovered, his parents noticed that he couldn’t walk as well as he used to and had difficulty keeping up with his friends when playing. They saw that he was walking on tip toe on his left side. You can see this in the photo of Blessings barefoot.
His parents took him for physiotherapy and from there he was referred him to 500 miles in July for an ankle foot orthosis to keep the ankle in a neutral position.
At 500 miles Blessings was assessed by Mwayi Munthali and diagnosed as having Cerebral Palsy which has resulted in an equinus deformity. This means that Blessings lacks the flexibility to pull the front of the foot up towards the front of his leg. An ankle foot orthosis compensates for that by holding the ankle in a neutral position, letting the wearer stand with his weight more balanced across both feet and walk with the whole surface of the foot touching the ground when a step is taken on it.
A cast was made for Blessing’s ankle foot orthosis. When it was fitted and worn inside his shoe, the result was good – but we could still see the equinus weakness so we recommended continuing physiotherapy to improve the walking pattern. With practice Blessings should achieve a normal gait and be able to keep up with his friends again.