Stories about: Hand and Upper Extremity Program

From brachial plexus birth injury to Division I athlete

Piper Hampsch lead image Thriving blog brachial plexus birth injury field hockey Duke
PHOTOS: COURTESY OF HAMPSCH FAMILY

“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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Football and family: Overcoming brachial plexus birth palsy

Brachial plexus patient plays football
(Photo credit: Ray Labbe)

Chase is only a few months away from fulfilling a lifelong dream; playing college football. It’s a dream thousands of other kids across the country will be living out this fall — but they aren’t like Chase.

“The first time I saw Chase was in 2000,” says Dr. Peter Waters, Orthopedic Surgeon-in-Chief and director of the Brachial Plexus Program at Boston Children’s. “He was six months old when his parents brought him in, and had a severe brachial plexus injury to his right side.” To correct this nerve injury that occurs during birth, Chase would undergo nerve surgery on his arm in 2001, and another two surgeries on his shoulder in 2003. He would continue to need life-long physical therapy as he grew and will always have limited use of his right arm.

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Study: Children with upper limb differences have better emotional health

Upper limb differences ans psychosocial health

Children born with upper limb differences face unique challenges in life. Conditions can range from failure of fingers to separate to complete or partial absence of a limb, which may make it difficult to perform certain tasks as easily as their peers. Often, parents of children with limb differences worry about how these physical challenges will affect the emotional development of their child. However, recent research from Boston Children’s Hospital has found that children with congenital hand differences have excellent emotional health.

A recent study led by Dr. Donald S. Bae, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in the Hand and Upper Extremity Program at Boston Children’s Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center, found that while children with upper limb differences exhibit decreased upper limb function, some form better peer relationships and have more positive emotional states compared to population norms.

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‘Going for it’ with a congenital hand difference

Ashley Murphy Thriving lead image gymnastics

“People ask me if it’s harder to do certain things, and I always tell them, ‘I don’t know, this is all I’ve ever had.’” Despite being born with symbrachydactyly — a condition in which the middle three fingers of her left hand never fully developed — 12-year-old Ashley makes most things look easy. She runs cross-country, plays basketball and even competes on the uneven bars in gymnastics, all with a hand that sets her apart from most kids her age.

“We talk a lot about how everyone has differences,” says her mom, Juli. “I told her when she was little that her hand won’t ever be the same as others, but we can adjust and make compensations so she can do the things she wants to do.” And what does Ashley want to do? The answer to that seems to be almost everything.

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