When 5-year-old Jane Morehead tumbled off her bike in May 2017, it didn’t seem like a big deal. Jane’s dad was with her at the time, and both of them considered the fall a minor one. The whole family was surprised, therefore, when Jane had pain in her left shoulder the next day. At an emergency room (ER) near the family’s home in North Carolina, x-rays of Jane’s shoulder appeared normal. The doctor diagnosed a possible sprain and sent Jane home in a sling. As far as Jane and her parents were concerned, that was the end of it. …
“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.
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. …
“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.