At the age of 18 months, I walked funny and fell a lot which led my mother’s intuition into the pediatrician’s office and ultimately to the diagnosis of bilateral hip dysplasia. The treatment plan included five successful hip surgeries over the next four years of my life including open reduction on both hips and pelvic osteotomies for both sides. While my memory is fuzzy at times of my life in spica casts, I do remember the distinct feeling of being “stuck” and the general frustration of not being able to play like other children got to do. My parents have a far different memory of worries including wondering if I would be able to walk and run without pain.
Becoming a top national equestrian athlete and riding 2000-pound animals is something I’m certain seemed unachievable given my diagnosis from doctors, but being hampered physically early on just made me more resilient and determined to overcome obstacles in my life physical or otherwise. I’ve always known I would need to connect with the orthopedic world and other patients at some point in my life.
Due to the spica cast design, riding a horse at the local farmer’s markets or taking countless rides on merry-go-rounds with the help of my parents were a few of my favorite activities while I was unable to walk or keep up with other children. Seeing me upright and so happy to be active, my mom and neighbor came up with an idea. They jerry-rigged a chair for me to use which allowed me independence and the ability to sit upright and do more normal age-appropriate activities including going to preschool and kindergarten. The chair provided enough support and security to my body without compromising the spica cast and its’ intentions and allowed me to be pushed up to a table so I could eat and do arts, crafts, and gain a new independence I had never had before.
I’ve scoured the internet for a chair similar to mine, but I have yet to come across a design that is child friendly and can be put together by a handy parent or friend of the family with materials found at the local hardware and craft stores.
While COVID has slowed my ability to finalize chair dimensions and details with a fabricator and experts, I do have drawings and ideas, and I would be happy to share my insights. My hope is that sharing my story of a child with wobbly legs and spica casts that turns into a national athlete will inspire patients and parents alike.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.