The Cunningham Brace
The Cunningham Brace is the brain child of Jerald Cunningham who runs his own clinic in Maine, USA. Jerald graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in Physics and Cognitive studies. He is a guest lecturer at the University of New England’s Ph.D. Physical Therapy programme.
Jerald started developing the brace at the request of the orthopaedic surgeon he worked with. The consultant felt that whilst the Boots and Bar offered a successful treatment, they often caused a lot of distress to the child and parents. They can be difficult to put on, keep in place and children can find it difficult to sleep.
Jerald has worked on it for over a decade, continuously making development changes based upon the evidence provided by the in-brace x-rays taken after every patient fitting.
The Cunningham Brace is a flexible brace that is only fitted to the affected leg and allows movement for all of the normal activities such as crawling, rolling, standing and even walking. The brace is always gently stretching the baby into the correct position so it is acting as though the therapist is always there manipulating and correcting the foot. In the case of a unilateral (single) club foot, because each leg is treated separately only the affected foot is involved (with the boots and bar approach, both feet have to be attached to the bar regardless.)
The end result is a very effective treatment protocol that has reduced treatment times to about 1/3 of other treatments, and which typically requires only two braces during the two years that it is worn. After a brief period, the baby is not even aware of the presence of the brace. This really improves comfort and compliance (and decreases stress for parents).
Photos courtesy of Cunningham Prosthetic Care