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Matilda International Hospital

Sports loving boy finds new adventures after orthopaedic surgery

Surgery and a holistic approach to care helped an eight-year-old diagnosed with Perthes Disease to stay positive and active.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 12:04am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2018, 12:04am

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At age 7, Jack Farmer was diagnosed with Perthes Disease, a childhood disorder that affects the head of the femur, i.e. the thighbone. As a result, blood supply to the growth plate at the end of the femur becomes inadequate, and the bone softens and even breaks down. Mobility can be greatly affected as the disease progresses.“When first diagnosed, Jack’s condition was not very serious so we opted to put him on crutches and a wheelchair to minimize weight bearing and allow for his femur to heal naturally,” Dr Liu King Lok, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Matilda International Hospital with special interest in Children’s orthopaedic conditions, explained that rest was initially recommended to ease his discomfort.

Unfortunately Jack’s condition worsened and he received surgery 20 days after his diagnosis. “We rotated his deteriorated femur internally, so that the disease part of hip (femoral head) is rotated out of the original critical weight bearing area; hence allowing the optimal environment for natural regeneration to take place. Jack recovered very well after the procedure but he could not do any sports within six months. Walking was all his legs could handle at that time,” explained Dr Liu.

Jack was always an active child, and an inspiration even with Perthes. Before he was ill, he had been engaged in all sorts of sports and an avid cyclist, having gone on cycling trips around Asia and loved cycling in the heavy rain. When he was unable to put strain to his legs during his rehabilitation, he began to learn to sail and hand-cycle, as alternative ways to stay active.

Together with his family, Jack even started a charity called Pedal Through Perthes which aimed to raise awareness to help children with Perthes find mobility and freedom through supporting two related charity organisations The Perthes Through Pethes and Sailability Hong Kong.

When Jack gets better, he has plans to play rugby again, as well as duathlons and BMX. He still plays football by balancing on one leg and his crutches.

“It is a great pleasure to see how Jack has overcome his disease and was able to continue his passion for sports despite the difficulties. With sailing, there is so much technique to learn and he could set different goals. Meeting these goals has helped him tremendously on his road to recovery. Seeing him blossom really tells us how important it is to consider all treatment options to help patients retain an active lifestyle,” said Dr Liu.

Improving patients’ quality of life by helping them to stay active was a driving force for Matilda to open the Orthopaedic and Spine Centre last year. It was paramount for Jack, who was only eight years old at the time of surgery, but also for all patients due to the rising popularity of sports and leisurely pursuits.

Orthopaedics is the branch of medicine concerned with the bones, joints and muscles of the musculo-skeletal system and one of the key specialties of Matilda, whose orthopaedic team includes around 25 active specialists, many with expertise in orthopaedic subspecialties such as knee, hand, shoulder, hip, spine and ankle.

Linda Burgoyne, Chief Executive Officer of the Matilda International Hospital, explained that as orthopaedic treatment options become more sophisticated, people need support through care pathways and the hospital’s multilingual team can expertly assist with appointments, procedures, price estimations, insurance administration, transport and follow up–a seamless medical concierge service dedicated to helping people with joint problems.

1,500 cases of orthopaedic subspecialty procedures are performed annually at Matilda. The consultation service of the Centre ensures that patients are given the best assistance in navigating the different treatment options available to them, in the manner that benefits them most physically and financially.

Visit the Matilda International Hospital website to learn more about the Orthopeadic and Spine Centre.