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Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville patient Sadie was chosen to be in a national commercial for the hospital system. The energetic 4-year-old had a great time filming the commercial and playing with the crew, and loved being the star of the show.

Jessi, Sadie’s mother, remembers looking forward to her doctor’s appointment while pregnant with Sadie, because she was going to learn if she was having a boy or girl. “After staring at the screen for a very long time, the obstetrician turned to my husband and me and said, ‘Everything is probably all right, but I think your daughter may have a clubfoot,’” recalls Jessi.

Clubfoot is one of the most common birth defects seen in the lower extremity. It is characterized by the foot being turned to the side or pointing downward.

Jessi was sent to a local high-risk pregnancy office for a 3-D ultrasound. After the ultrasound, Jessi learned that Sadie had some challenges. Not only did Sadie have clubfoot, she was also diagnosed with arthrogryposis.

Arthrogryposis is a rare, nonprogressive muscle disorder causing stiff joints and an overall lack of muscular development. Children with arthrogryposis are born with a deformity of the joints and a limited range of joint motion. All of Sadie’s joints were affected.

While researching arthrogryposis and treatments on the internet, Jessi discovered Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville and occupational therapist Lisa Wagner, MHS, OTR/L. Lisa immediately invited Jessi to meet with her and tour the hospital.

“Lisa is absolutely brilliant and very knowledgeable about arthrogryposis,” Jessi said. “She introduced me to all of the doctors who would treat Sadie after she was born. She made me feel very comfortable with the hospital and the expected course of treatment.”

At age 3 weeks, Sadie began receiving care at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville. The hospital treated her clubfoot using Ponseti method casting. The Ponseti method of serial casting includes gentle massage and moving of parts of the foot to stretch the tight or shortened structures slowly into a good position. A long leg cast then holds the foot in place for about a week. During this time, the muscles and ligaments stretch enough to allow a little more correction in the foot’s position. The cast is taken off and the foot is again massaged or stretched and moved into a more correct position. A cast is then reapplied.

David Westberry, M.D., pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville says the cast is changed weekly for five to six weeks. “After the sixth cast, we do a minimal surgical procedure to lengthen the heel cord tendon,” Dr. Westberry says. “A final cast is left in place for three weeks and then the child is placed in a foot brace to maintain the correction and prevent recurrence.”

“Thanks to Shriners Hospitals for Children, Sadie can now walk barefoot and will not have to have any major surgeries on her feet,” Jessi said.

While Sadie’s legs were in casts, her arms were receiving intense physical therapy, occupational therapy and serial splinting. When Sadie was born, her wrists were bent downwards and her fingers were twisted. Sadie wore the arm splints and each week the splints were adjusted to reflect her new range of motion. Jessi had to do physical therapy on Sadie’s arms and fingers at every diaper change until she was 6 months old.

“I can’t say enough about Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville and occupational therapist Lisa Wagner,” Jess said. “She is a brilliant innovator. One night I had a dream about a splint to correct Sadie’s twisted fingers. I told Lisa about the splint and the very next day she built it! The splint worked and now when you look at Sadie’s hands you would never know her fingers were once twisted together.”

Sadie received serial casting once again. This time it was for her elbows. At birth, Sadie had less than five degrees of range of motion in her elbows. Through therapy, splinting and active play, and elbow release surgeries, Sadie can now bend both of her elbows.

“I am so excited about her progress,” Jessi says. Sadie is now able to bend her arms and put food in her mouth all by herself. She can even touch her nose!”

At 4, Sadie continues to come to the Greenville Shriners Hospital each week for occupational therapy and is making great strides to become more and more independent. With her contagious smile, there is no doubt Sadie will go far.

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