Stories about: brachial plexus

From brachial plexus birth injury to Division I athlete

Piper Hampsch lead image Thriving blog brachial plexus birth injury field hockey Duke

“Other players and coaches don’t see the powerlessness behind my condition, or the struggles I’ve had to go through to get to where I’m at. They just see me making saves other people can’t make. It doesn’t matter if I have two arms, one arm or no arms.  As long as I make the save, they don’t care.” – Piper Hampsch

Piper is one of the best high school field hockey goalies in the country. She committed to Duke University last year as a sophomore, and will be playing college field hockey in 2020. In case you don’t closely follow collegiate field hockey, Duke was #1 in the nation last year in the final NCAA rankings. Safe to say, Piper is exceptional in her sport, and other teams and players take notice. But many of the athletes she plays against are unaware that Piper was also exceptional at birth.

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Grabbing the reins her own way

Chloe, a roder rider with brachial plexus, rides a horse during a barrel race.
Chloe Neff, a rodeo rider with brachial plexus birth injury, will compete in barrel racing world championships. 

Barrel racing isn’t for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure.

In this rodeo event, horses and riders whip around barrels at lightning speeds. Tails flourish in the air and muscles ripple. Powerful horses are coaxed by their riders to spin around each barrel as quickly as possible.

One such duo, 16-year-old Chloe Neff and her horse, Raise a Glass Dancer, will soon be on their way to barrel racing’s world championships.

“If you keep trying and working at it, you can do anything you want to,” says Chloe. Her record for completing a barrel course is 16.6 seconds. “Right now, Glass and I are working toward a 15.”

In the Perry, Georgia, stadium where barrel racing world championships will be held later this year, Chloe’s parents may be the only people to notice anything seemingly different about Chloe, as she and Glass flash past the stands. That’s because Chloe, who has received care from the Brachial Plexus Program at Boston Children’s Hospital since she was 5 months old, sustained damage to her left brachial plexus nerve when she was born. The injury jeopardized Chloe’s use of her left shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand.

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May highlights: Overcoming brain hemorrhage, brachial plexus + more

Catch up on what you may have missed on Thriving last month. Our staff takes a look back at a few of this month’s favorite posts.

A sister’s words: The athlete who couldn’t be tamed by a brain hemorrhagecarly6

Carly is a superstar athlete, running a 5:32 mile at the young age of 14. Her heroes include Tom Brady, Malcolm Butler and Boston Children’s neurosurgeon Dr. Ed Smith. After emergency surgery to repair a brain hemorrhage Carly’s career aspirations have shifted, and the Cape Cod track star is now pondering the world of neurosurgery. Read A sister’s words: The athlete who couldn’t be tamed by a brain hemorrhage.

Tuberous sclerosis: Clinical trial may be what halted Charlotte’s seizures

Seizures tuberous sclerosis
Charlotte participates cheerfully in her exam with Jurriaan Peters, MD.

Four-year-old Charlotte has a rare genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). When medications failed to control her seizures, her family turned to Dr. Mustafa Sahin and Dr. Jurriaan Peters for answers. She qualified for a clinical trial that was focused on the TSC defect. Today she is virtually seizure-free and is starting kindergarten this fall. Read Tuberous sclerosis: Clinical trial may be what halted Charlotte’s seizures.

Ask the expert: Can kids get melanoma?

sunHow much sun is too much? Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, clinical director of the Solid Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, answers your family’s melanoma questions. Read Ask the expert: Can kids get melanoma.

Never say never: Gymnast with brachial plexus soars

Photo credit: Robert Marra
Photo credit: Robert Marra

17-year-old Julia whips around the uneven bars with apparent ease and effortlessly flips across the spring floor. It’s hard to believe that the captain of the Winthrop high school gymnastics team was diagnosed with brachial plexus birth palsy as a baby. Dr. Peter Waters cared for her from infancy and completed surgery to improve her range of motion and help her become the active teenager she is today. Read Never say never: Gymnast with brachial plexus soars.


Parent Q&A: Helping a daughter through breast reduction surgery


ABC News Videos | ABC Entertainment News

From unwanted attention to physical symptoms to dress shopping, her large breasts, or macromastia, made many things difficult during Mackenzie Langan’s high school years. The 18-year-old recently underwent breast reduction surgery to drop from a G cup to a C size. Her experience was profiled on ABC’s Nightline, and her mother reflects on the experience. Read Parent Q&A: Helping a daughter through breast reduction surgery.

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Never say never: Gymnast with brachial plexus soars

Photo credit: Robert Marra
Photo credit: Robert Marra

Shortly after Julia Duplin was born, doctors diagnosed her with brachial plexus birth palsy; some of the nerves running from her upper spinal cord to her left arm had been damaged during birth. The early prognosis was that she would have some level of disability in her left arm.

Seventeen years later, she’s captain of Winthrop High School’s gymnastic team. She whips around the uneven bars with apparent ease and effortlessly flips across the sprung floor. How did Julia journey from an awkward toddler who crawled using only her right arm to a gymnastics powerhouse?

From the beginning, Julia’s parents Dianne and Joseph committed themselves to her recovery, encouraging her to do as much as possible and not letting her brachial plexus injury hold her back.

“Many brachial plexus patients go on to excel in sports despite the limits of the affected arm,” says Peter Waters, MD, chief of Boston Children’s Hospital Orthopedic Center. “If a child has the drive, talent and passion for sports, a brachial plexus injury won’t hold her back.”

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