BY NICOLAS FERNANDES
A boy forced to walk on his toes due to a two-inch (five-centimeter) leg length difference has undergone BONE STRETCHING SURGERY to help him get more involved in sports.
Keanu Cua, eight, of Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, was born with a once centimeter difference between his left and right limbs, and as his body grew it was exacerbated to be five times greater.
The congenital birth defect, called Limb Length Discrepancy, meant he was forced to wear a lift at the bottom of his shoe and even needed to tiptoe while walking around indoors.
He had the life-altering surgery at Shriners Hospitals for Children eight months ago, that created ten holes in his left leg and installed an Ilizarov apparatus – an external circular medal device connected to the fibula and tibia bones.
He wore the fixator for four-and-a-half months, with his family cranking the device every day to help his bones stretch and reduce the length difference.
After a further month wearing a cast, Keanu was able to pick out his favorite sneakers for the first time and after he’s fully healed will be able to compete at a higher sporting level.
His mother, Alisha, 43, said: “This changed his life. He was never able to stand without the support of the lift in his shoe.
“It will definitely make it a lot easier for him to be active and he’s going to start participating in more sports
“When he was learning to walk as a baby, he would just naturally stand on his left tiptoe.
“I guess it’s just like anyone who has a disability. They make it work.
“The bone basically kept growing more and more every time we cranked the device.
“He was so excited when I brought him to the store and he was able to pick out whatever sneakers he wanted.
“It’s something that other kids do all the time, but for him it felt very special.”
While the device successfully extended the length of his bone, it caused some complications.
Due to all of the holes he had in his leg, Keanu suffered several infections.
The fixator caused him pain, but he was so optimistic that he hardly complained about it.
Alisha, a health and wellness coach, said: “Probably the most difficult part of the process for him was the pain of the infections.
“He was very brave and positive for the most part. His attitude about it really blew us away.”
While the procedure will help Keanu stay more active for a while, the discrepancy is expected to come back as he continues to grow.
His doctors at Shriners have estimated that by the time he is 16-years-old he will have the two-inch difference again.
Once his bones have finished growing, he will undergo the procedure for a second time to finally fix the problem once and for all.
Alisha said: “Even though it won’t last forever, I’m happy that it will make things easier for him for now.
“It’s going to be much simpler for him run around and keep up with all the other kids on the field.”
Alisha worries about how her son will react to the length difference returning but believes he will remain positive no matter what happens.
She added: “This kid has such a good attitude that he can handle anything.”
For more information on Shriners Hospitals for Children, visit https://www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/shc.