How Valley Children's Hospital is helping local girl correct club foot

ByGraciela Moreno and Aurora Gomez, Reuben Guerra via KFSN logo
Thursday, April 14, 2022
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A local family found help inside the Orthopaedics Department at Valley Children's Hospital for their young daughter.

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A local family found help inside the Orthopaedics Department at Valley Children's Hospital for their young daughter.

For Kendra Cleveland, overcoming obstacles and finding her own path are part of her journey.

RELATED: Futures Worth Fighting For Telethon benefiting Valley Children's Hospital

"She has no fear. She literally has no fear, nothing will stop her. Nothing can stop her," said Kendra's mother, Talene Kasparian-Cleveland.

Kendra was born with a club foot.

"When you see your child born and their foot is not looking like a normal foot, and you think, you know, was is my daughter going be able to walk," Talene said.

Clubfoot affects one out of every thousand babies in the U.S. The congenital disorder causes one or both of a baby's feet to turn inward or to point upward. Early intervention is important.

Dr. Thuba Leba is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Valley Children's Hospital. She treats Kendra using the Ponseti Method, a technique involving casting, surgery and special braces.

"The main surgery is just a small tenotomy where you cut the Achilles tendon to make the foot more flexible," Dr. Leba said.

"We started with casting for Kendra, and she responded well when we did a small procedure to loosen up some more tendons and then she's been in braces since she was a baby. That has led for a really good nice correction in her feet," Dr. Leba said.

Kendra's right foot is smaller than the left and has tiny scars from her three surgeries. She wore her boots and bar 23 hours a day.

"When you put the boots on it, there's a mechanism that basically clicks inside to the boots. It's called the Dobbs bar, and it goes across, and she calls them 'click clicks' because they literally click-click so it's like OK, time to get your boots and click clicks!" Talene said.

"She's flexible in terms of this direction and this direction, and so that's exactly what we want," she added.

For the fifth consecutive year, Valley Children's is ranked one of the nation's best children's hospitals in Orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report.

The department performs 2,200 pediatric orthopedic surgeries a year.

"We have a very advanced spine team here that sees a very complex spine. We have a doctor here that specializes in hip preservation. We do very complex Sports Medicine here, too," Dr. Leba said.

The Clevelands are grateful this specialized treatment is available close to home.

"It would be really, really hard for two working parents to travel to Los Angeles or San Francisco to be able to get that treatment. It's in our backyard. So we're pretty thankful," Talene said.

Kendra is now four and has outgrown a dozen boots. She only wears them when she sleeps.

"You wear braces on your teeth to fix a problem, and when you wear a retainer to keep the problem corrected with her. A cast was her braces, and her boots are her retainer," Talene said.

Kendra can walk and play, and that's mission accomplished for medical experts like Dr. Leba.

Those boots are definitely made for walking! Kendra is doing great!

You can help support the hospital that's changing lives. Click here to learning more about the Futures Worth Fighting For Telethon benefiting Valley Children's Hospital.