Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Benefits of the Dobbs Brace

I woke up tired this morning. Exhausted really. And that’s when it hit me: this is the first time I’ve truly been exhausted since Eli settled into his new Dobbs brace. As some of you may recall, when we tried the Mitchell brace for clubfoot, we were up every 45 minutes with him. It was brutal. And the word “brutal” doesn’t do it justice.

But within a week of getting the Dobbs brace, our lives improved unimaginably. We were able to sleep. Eli started sleeping through the night (as of this weekend he even slept 13 hours one night!) It’s made a big difference in our marriage, in our work, and frankly in our sanity!

So here are 3 things we’ve learned since Eli moved into the Dobbs brace.

1. Fight for the Brace. We hear it’s more expensive. Although we have yet to get the bill from the insurance company. Something tells me they haven’t forgotten about us! But I will say, no matter how much it cost, for us, it is worth it. I’ve been in training events where we are supposed to answer “how much is ______ worth.” I now know exactly how much a good night of sleep is worth! So if your doctor is recommending the Mitchell bar, push back and try and land the Dobbs brace. (Because it’s new “technology” most doctors aren’t yet comfortable prescribing it.)

2. Double up on socks. Eli’s feet sweat a lot. We need two pairs of socks to help keep that in check. But the second pair of socks really help prevent Eli from getting blisters / sores from the brace.

3. Use a colored “outer” sock. Because we use two socks we like to put a second colored sock on the outside. Why? Because it lets us see if his heel is “down” in the brace. Something that’s difficult to do through the small opaque plastic “window” they use in our braces. As they say in the Ghostbusters, “if the light is green, the foot is down.” Or something.

We’ve learned other tips in the last month, but these are 3 big ones. If you have a tip feel free to let us know in the comments section!


  1. Good tips - and I totally agree that it is worth the money to have the Dobbs bar. So glad it's making such a difference for Eli.

  2. Thanks Victoria. Eli has been so much happier in the dobbs bar. I can't imagine going with a different one now. I'm not sure how we would have survived!

  3. The Mitchell bar was not much loved by my Bjorn. He puts up with the Dobbs Bar. Seconded about a cheapie first bed when little one is in clubfoot braces.

  4. We used the Dobbs bar and sadly it did not do it's job very well and we have had to redo some of my daughters casting and operation due to it. She can move her foot in such a way that she can point her toes. Not good :( We are back to the straight bar now.

  5. @madtazzy - That's terrible to hear. We thought for awhile that we might have to switch back to the Mitchell bar, but Eli's back into wearing them consistently with no ill effects. Although Eli does love to try to pull his right foot out of the boot, and it often gets "stuck" with his toes pointed.

  6. The Dobbs bar looks great but it does not seem to be recommended for complex clubfoot and can lead to relapse in these cases. I think it's important to work with your health care provider to find a combination of boots and bars that works for you and your baby.
    Love the double sock idea and agree fully with the coloured socks.

  7. @Cubits - Eli had problems keeping his feet down in both braces. But with the Mitchell bar, he couldn't tolerate keeping his legs straight. For us, the Dobbs brace has allowed us to stay more in compliance. What we've been told by our doctor is that relapse is most likely to occur when a brace isn't used consistently. Although like in all medicine there is no guarantee one way or another.

    But this is obviously a conversation people should have with their doctor, and not go off of our experience!

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  9. Hello! I'm just back from South America, where I was living with a host family. My host mother just had a son, Felipe, and he has club foot. There is no way to buy a dobb's bar there, but they're interested in trying it with their 2 month old who just got his casts off. Anyone know a way to buy a dobbs bar as an individual (not through your orthopedist)?

  10. I believe you can get one directly through St. Louis Children's hospital. We don't have any specific contact information but if you follow this link there is a phone number at the bottom of the page that might get you in touch with the right person:

    Good luck!