CHILD of the month

By Rich Petersen

Samir A. Rojas Hernández


child-nov11With one of the best smiles around, this is 7-year old Samir Rojas Hernández, or “Sami” as he is known at home. Sami lives in Chapala with his parents and three other brothers; he is the second oldest.  Mom Clara is a homemaker and Dad Agustín drives a delivery truck for a furniture company.

Sami’s mother noticed almost immediately after birth that the boy’s legs were curved a bit more than usual for an infant and that one leg seemed to be a bit shorter than the other. She immediately started giving Sami therapy at home, gentle push-pull strengthening exercises. 

For about two years this home therapy seemed to be helping, but then Sami started limping and complaining of knee pain. Also, his left foot had begun to turn inward and as he began to walk, he fell much more than was normal. A visit to the orthopedist gave the family a better picture of what the problem was:  mild scoliosis and hip asymmetry (one hip higher than the other).

Something I didn’t know is that scoliosis is not a disease—it is a descriptive term. All spines have curves. Some curvature in the neck, upper trunk and lower trunk is normal. Humans need these spinal curves to help the upper body maintain proper balance and alignment over the pelvis. However, when there are abnormal side-to-side (lateral) curves in the spinal column, this is referred to as scoliosis. 

Also interestingly enough, scoliosis affects 2% of women and just 0.5% of men. Causes can include congenital spine deformities, genetic conditions, neuromuscular problems and limb length inequality (this would be Sami’s case). Other causes for scoliosis include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy and tumors. Over 80% of scoliosis cases, however, are idiopathic, which means that there is no known cause. Most idiopathic scoliosis cases are found in otherwise healthy people.

Fortunately for Sami, the doctors think that with observation over the next few years, along with some orthopedic shoes to try to equalize the limb length, the spinal curvature will not progress to the point of needing surgery. There may be a time when an orthopedic brace will be prescribed to help the boy maintain the current degree of curvature so that it will not progress to the need for surgery. Surgery in most cases of scoliosis is a last resort. Programa pro Niños Incapacitados del Lago has paid for a spinal x-ray, doctor consults, plus Sami’s new shoes.

For now, Sami is getting used to those new shoes and his Mom is continuing with daily therapy and exercises at home. He is an excellent student in the second grade and likes arithmetic best. He has lots of friends at school and at home his favorite pastime is playing with toy dinosaurs and learning about prehistoric times.

If you would like to meet other children being helped by Niños Incapacitados, please attend our regular monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month in one of the meeting rooms at the Hotel Real de Chapala in La Floresta. Coffee and cookies at 10:00, meeting at 10:30.  Bring a friend. You will learn how you can volunteer in many different ways and how your monetary support helps so much to assist needy families whose children suffer from a chronic and/or debilitating illness or condition.

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