Jolanta Kavale is a PhD scholar in Human Development in Germany. She is fluent in Lithuanian, English, Russian, and Polish, and she organized the translation of Global HELP’s “Clubfoot: Ponseti Management” into Russian and Ukrainian.
Jolanta is a clubfoot parent from Lithuania. Her son Jack was born in 2003 with unilateral congenital clubfoot of the right foot. After almost two months of traditional casting, which did not bring any improvement, Jolanta found the information about the Ponseti method on the internet and contacted Professor Ignacio Ponseti asking for help. The doctor was very kind to examine the digital photos of her son’s foot and to recommend a very good Ponseti specialist in Germany, Dr. M. F. Sinclair. As it turned out, Jolanta’s son Jack was the first child from Lithuania to get Ponseti treatment in Germany, in 2003.
After seeing Dr. Sinclair’s successful work, his happy patients, and the almost unbelievable Ponseti treatment results, as well as knowing about the unfortunate consequences that the typical clubfoot surgery brings to a child, Jolanta wanted to introduce the Ponseti method to Lithuanian doctors immediately.
As a result of her co-operation with Dr. Sinclair, three more clubfoot patients from Lithuania were treated in Germany using the Ponseti method. After her return from Germany, Jolanta wrote an article describing her son’s successful casting and in one of the magazines for parents. The article caused many parents to call and visit her, inquiring about the special brace and the unique treatment. This was the first step in creation of Lithuanian Clubfoot Club.
In order to make the information exchange more effective and with a thought of many Russian and Ukrainian children suffering from unnecessary clubfoot surgeries, Jolanta decided to set up a fundraising for a Ponseti website in Lithuania. The website has been available in three languages, including Russian and English, since 2004. During the same year, she encouraged the local doctors to contact Dr. M. F. Sinclair and co-organized two Ponseti method workshops for orthopedic surgeons in Lithuania. Later, she was also able to convince the local orthopaedic factories to start the production of Foot Abduction Brace (or DBB). These events have been called by the local doctors “a revolution in clubfoot treatment” due to the fact that there have been no extensive clubfoot surgeries in Lithuania since 2004, and the Ponseti method has been accepted and applied throughout the country as the initial and the main treatment of congenital clubfoot.
The casting session and the FAB are covered by the state’s health insurance. In April 2005, Jolanta had an honor to participate in the orthopaedic conference in Baku. She was invited to talk about the influence of parent support groups and the internet in spreading the Ponseti method around the world.
At the moment, Jolanta is devoted to the information exchange about the Ponseti method and is contacted by Russian-speaking clubfoot parents and doctors. She admires American and German doctors’ philanthropic initiatives, devoted to education of their colleagues around the world, and finds her involvement in clubfoot work very inspiring and rewarding. She is an active member in Russian clubfoot message boards for parents and is currently working on the creation of a new Ponseti website designed especially for Russian speaking communities. Since the beginning of her story, Jolanta has advised many parents in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and other post-Soviet countries.