At 4’4” tall, Natashia Christian was no stranger to teasing as a child. Unfazed by bullies, Natashia held her head high, made stronger by the words her grandmother often told her – “Dynamite comes in small packages.”
A 35-year-old mother of two, Natashia was born with a congenital form of Rickets that results in severe bowing of the legs. Despite six corrective surgeries over the years, the condition continued to cause her bouts of pain, discomfort and ultimately, stress fractures in both her femurs from the constant misalignment. After visiting a clinic for her last bout with debilitating pain, she was referred to Dr. Michael Campbell here at AOS.
The timing could not have been better for their meeting, as Dr. Campbell had recently completed training in a new orthopaedic technique utilizing the Orthofix Hexapod External Fixator, recently approved by the FDA for gradual repositioning of bones in the lower extremities.
With a lifelong desire to know what it was like to do things most of us take for granted – to walk pain-free, to hike, visit shopping malls and spend time outdoors playing with family – Natasha enthusiastically agreed to the year-long process and four surgeries that lay ahead.
“All my life, I have dreamed to know what it was like to have straight legs,” Ms. Christian reported. “And now with the first surgery behind me, I know it will be a lot of work and physical therapy, but I’m ready.”
“The purpose of the surgery is to decrease the stress on the bones and joints of the legs, and prolong the life span of her joints,” reports Dr. Campbell. The fixators, applied to each leg, have six knobs, which must be adjusted by Natashia with a prescribed number of turns twice a day. These very delicate adjustments gradually reposition her bones at a measure of about one millimeter per day.
As the first patient to receive the procedure on both upper and lower legs, Natashia is being monitored closely and has formed a close bond with Dr. Campbell. “Dr. Campbell stays on top of everything,” Natasha praised. “He calls. He texts. One Sunday one of the pins was hurting really bad, so he told me to go ahead to the E.R. He met me there, on the weekend, to make sure everything was okay. That’s dedication.”
“Another rewarding, but less important benefit, will be cosmetic. Not only will her gait straighten, making walking far less painful, but she will also gain three to four inches in height,” says Dr. Campbell.
With the first of the four surgeries behind her, Natashia looks forward to raising her two sons, taking a real family vacation, and being able to enjoy going to the mall. She looks forward to the time she can say “now my capri pants look like capris,” lightheartedly referring to her future 4’7” frame.