Stories about: (PAO) surgery

The PAO buddy system: Healing through connection

Leigh Lozano and Alyse Scanlon PAO patients Thriving lead image

For people with significant orthopedic hip conditions such as hip dysplasia, a periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) is a major surgery that can reduce or eliminate pain, while also increasing hip function. However, the post-op recovery and rehabilitation process can be long and sometimes painful.

“Recovery is an up and down process,” says Ariana Moccia, a nurse practitioner who works closely with patients in the Child and Young Adult Hip Preservation Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It’s important for patients to be able to share their frustrations and successes with somebody who really understands.” That’s why Ariana and orthopedic hip preservation surgeon Dr. Eduardo Novais have been working to connect prospective PAO patients with others who have already gone through the surgery.

Three of the patients who helped initiate the PAO “buddy system” at Boston Children’s share their experiences.

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Printing a plan to resolve an athlete’s pain

Louise before hip surgery
Photo credit: Risley Sports Photography LLC

Just days away from a complex hip surgery, Louise Atadja smiles and laughs. “I’m not really nervous at all. I feel like it’s the next thing on my to-do list, like we’re just checking off a box,” she says. “That’s the type of person I am — I make lists of what I have to do, so that’s how I’m thinking about it.”

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Buddy system benefits athletes with hip dysplasia

college soccer player kristina who had hip dysplasia The buddy system is great. It helps keep buddies safe, secure and confident. When you’re a college athlete facing two major surgeries (called periacetabular osteotomy or PAO) to correct hip dysplasia in one year, a buddy can be a lifeline.

Until she was 18, Kristina Simonson had been one of those lucky athletes who escaped injury season after season. The Babson College student started playing soccer at 5 and entered college as a two-sport athlete—soccer and lacrosse.

She began experiencing hip pain her freshman year in college. Her trainer suspected it might be a torn labrum, or a rip in the seal that normally cushions the hip joint. He was right … but only partially.

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Our patients’ stories: Helping a teenage athlete stay hip

Jenn Sprung

It was another day at field hockey practice for Jenn Sprung. The 14-year-old from Gloversville, NY was running and playing with her team when a sharp pain through her right leg made her stop.

“I didn’t think anything of it at first,” she says. Like most teen athletes, Jenn was intent on fixing the problem as soon as possible so she could stay in the game. She rested, iced her hip and started practice again a week later.

But the pain got worse. A trip to her pediatrician’s office surprised her with a diagnosis of double trouble: Jenn’s X-rays showed that she had hip dysplasia not just in her right hip, but in her left as well.

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