Grace's Story (Hip Dysplasia)
Grace was adopted in 2006 at the age of 4 ½. Her adoption paperwork listed her special need as “deformity of the legs.” Within hours of her adoption, it was fairly obvious to us as her new parents that her hips were displaced. When we would set her in our laps, we could feel a distinct “popping” or “clicking.” Shortly after her arrival home to the United States, the diagnosis of bilateral hip dysplasia was confirmed.
In children with routine pediatric care, this condition is usually diagnosed well before the first birthday and the first treatment tried is usually a brace or harness designed to hold the hips in the socket. In children diagnosed at a later age, the hip socket hasn’t had the opportunity to develop properly, leaving it too shallow to hold the femur in place, even if the hip is placed in the socket. The treatment for older children is usually much more invasive than a brace; they usually need surgery followed by a period of time in a spica (body) cast.
Six months after her arrival home, Grace underwent bilateral femoral and pelvic osteotomies. Her femurs were cut, a piece removed and the lower part of her legs rotated inward and then plates and screws applied. Her hip sockets were bone-grafted to make them deeper. The grafts were pinned and the femurs placed in the sockets. Then she was placed in a purple fiberglass cast with her legs spread wide apart. She spent the next 4 months in her “purple prison” flat on her back. We needed a special car seat to take her in the car and had to turn her sideways to fit her through the car door because of the spread of her legs. We were able to get out and around by buying a reclining stroller and propping her with towels.
Through it all, Grace was a trooper. 16 weeks after the surgery, her cast was removed and she began a long, painful recovery, complicated by some other orthopedic issues that she has. She was able to walk again within 2 months of the cast removal. 18 months after the cast was removed, the plates and screws were removed from her femurs to allow them to grow normally. The pins will stay in her hips permanently. Grace’s hips are now in place and she has completely recovered. Despite her other orthopedic issues, she walks, runs and climbs in her own way. She hasn’t let her special needs hinder her from enjoying life and being a very active little girl.