Patient Stories

Sarah Twomey

arah Twomey is a mother, occupational therapist and a hip dysplasia advocate. Her two daughters both have hip dysplasia. Eve’s was evident from birth, Maya’s didn’t develop until six months of age. Their first years of life have involved the use of a brace to help correct their tiny hips.

This experience with her daughters forever changed her life and helped shaped her path.

Follow along as Sarah takes you down that path.

As I got the best cuddle tonight from my youngest, Maya, I was overwhelmed with love and admiration for all of her recent developments: pointing, getting on her trike by herself and, best of all, giving me hugs. Fourteen months is such a beautiful age — I remember wanting to press pause on time with our eldest Eve at this age too. I think tonight I was stopping to smell the roses, so to speak, as tomorrow we go back to the orthopaedic surgeon for Maya’s next check-up.

Eve and Maya both have hip dysplasia. We’ve been on the journey towards healthy hips for our girls for almost three years now. Our journey has not been as challenging as some, but not as fast as others; it is our journey and no two are the same.

Eve was breech, and when she was three weeks old, we were told a short stint in a Pavlik harness would correct her shallow hip sockets and we could put it all behind us. Eve got the green light to stop nighttime bracing just before her second birthday. Eve wore a harness then brace 23/7 for 10 of her first 12 months of life. Her next check-up in November will be one year after treatment finished. We are confident she has avoided surgery, but have learnt to keep an open mind.

Maya kept her head down during pregnancy and we thought she would therefore avoid any trouble with hip dysplasia. Her 6- and 10-week ultrasounds were promising, but by six months she needed to go into a brace. Maya only needed four months of 23/7 bracing and, for the past four months since then, has been using a brace during nights and naps. We wait with bated breath for the outcome of her check-up tomorrow.

Back in February, I found my niche: combining my determination to be the best mother I can be while not losing the career I loved as an occupational therapist. I saw a need for increasing support, education and resources in Australia to benefit all people impacted by hip dysplasia, along with the community-based health professionals working with them. To work towards meeting this need, I established the not-for-profit organisation Healthy Hips Australia.

Occupational therapists approach the hurdles thrown at people in life, using a holistic approach to minimise the impact of those challenges on a person’s independence and engagement in activities.

Treatment for hip dysplasia, across the age span, has the potential to impact significantly on all areas of a person’s life. Things we take for granted — such as showering, bathing, personal hygiene, toileting and dressing — are significantly harder, if not impossible, for those affected during treatment. Community access (via car, pram or foot), leisure activities and age-related learning (milestones for babies, schooling for children, work for adults) may be put on hold for some or the duration of treatment.

Taking a holistic approach to hip dysplasia — helping reduce its impact on activities of daily living and better connecting parents to health professionals — will, I believe make working and living with this condition a little easier.

As the world leader in promoting prevention, diagnosis and treatment of hip dysplasia, I was delighted to be asked to join the International Advisory Board for the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI). I believe our approaches are complementary in working towards the same goal and I look forward to contributing regular content to the IHDI website. Click here to view my bio.