An x-ray was taken during surgery to show what had been done to Reggie Fast's femur. Surgeons cut his femur bone in order to rotate it to the desired position. In doing do, they are hoping the hip joint will heal and become strong again by opening up the blood supply to the femur head. Reggie now has a plate and screws in his left leg which will help his leg stabilize until the hardware is removed next year. (Submitted photo)

Unexpected progress welcomed, but road to recovery for Reggie still long

After spending some time in a wheelchair following his surgery in July, Reggie Fast has been given the okay from his doctors to walk, but the road to recovery is still a long one.

Reggie went into surgery to repair his left hip (a procedure called a femoral derotation osteotomy) in July, after being diagnosed with Perthes in April, a rare childhood condition that affects the hip. Doctors said he could be in a wheelchair anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

His thigh bone was cut and then rotated to the proper position. The bone was then put back together with a plate and screws. As the months go by, and Reggie continues to grow, he will develop quite a bit of pain, meaning he’ll require a wheelchair on and off until the hardware is extracted next year.

But, his body is repairing itself at a faster rate than originally expected, and Reggie is able to walk a little bit now, though he still has a limp and uses the wheelchair at school.

“I call Reggie ‘super-human,’” said Wood, adding she told him his body is healing at a superhero’s pace. “That’s how I explained it to him, which he thinks is super cool.”

It’s been an emotional ride for the family, she said, but the speedy recovery means Reggie’s siblings can play with him again. His younger sister and older brother had changed their habits so as not to make Reggie feel bad about not being able to run or jump.

But, he is able to play games of catch with his brother and help his little sister, something both kids are excited about.

Activities still need to be monitored, however, to make sure Reggie doesn’t run, jump or otherwise put an immense amount of pressure on his leg. Wood said she’s happy to see him walk, but is also worried about the changes in his path to recovery.

The procedure is one of the most popular surgical treatments for Perthes, but the long term results have not been analyzed enough to provide clear outcomes.

“I feel like it’s a bit of an experiment,” she said. “When you Google Perthes, it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal but when you’re going through it with your child, and you’re not sure if you’re making the right decisions…we’re hoping that the hip joint comes back, but at this point, we don’t know if it will.”

Reggie has always been an active kid, said Wood. While he’s unable to continue gymnastics or snowboard, two of his favourite activities, he’s found new interests, including piano, and has been working on his upper body strength, through chin-ups and planks, as well as learning some cool new tricks in the wheelchair.

He’s also become more empathetic towards others with mobility issues, and told Wood that he may want to work with prosthetics.

Raft River Elementary has also been supportive, bringing in extra wheelchairs so Reggie can play with his friends — and teach them tricks.

“I bring my brother,” said Reggie. “We just go around…me and Jed switched wheelchairs, I was in the bad one and he was in the good one (Reggie’s) and we raced and I won. Then I was in the good one and he was in the bad one, and I won too.”

Reggie said he’s also getting pretty good at popping wheelies in the wheelchair, holding the position for up to an hour sometimes. He’s not happy that he’s in the wheelchair, but offered a silver lining.

“It’s pretty comfortable,” he said.

As winter approaches, it’ll be harder to find activities for him to do to ensure he keeps pressure off of his hip, but, Wood said that while the surgery and wheelchair have limited his ability to do some activities, it has also created opportunities for new ones.

“It’s opened up a whole bunch of different doors,” she said. “I want to keep opening doors for him.”

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While he got the okay from his doctor to begin walking, he tires out quickly and still needs to ensure he keeps weight and pressure off of his hip. (Submitted photo)

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