During a Wednesday, February 16, 2011 news conference at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, local physicians discussed osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) disease, the condition affecting young Patrick Sharrock of Rossville, Ga. This week, the community is joining forces with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” to build a new home for Patrick and his parents.
Dr. Thomas Ho, Patrick’s pediatrician from Ringgold, Ga., revealed that the 9-year-old’s first broken bone occurred before birth. Breaks have occurred so frequently throughout the young boy’s life that his own pediatrician has “lost count” of the number of fractures. Breaks can occur from body movements as simple as turning over in the bed or being lifted by an adult.
At only 36 pounds, Patrick has a severe form of OI, according to Dr. Cathy Stevens, pediatric geneticist at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. “There are at least seven types of OI,” she explained, ranging from fairly mild to extremely severe.
Patients like Patrick, however, can benefit from treatment options. Dr. Wendell Moses, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, explained that many young patients with OI benefit from IV infusions of bone-building drugs. “Medication management can reduce the number of breaks to one-fourth,” he said. Currently, Children’s Hospital is treating eight young OI patients.
Other treatment options include surgery to help straighten and strengthen bones, as well as physical therapy approaches such as swimming, which can help build bone mass. Since casts are not recommended in the healing process, splints are most often used to help broken bones heal.
Although Patrick’s fractures have lessened in recent years due to his realization of his limitations, there is no cure for OI. “You’ll note that Patrick’s father often carries him in his arms,” Dr. Ho said. “The family uses a stroller, walker, braces, or a wheelchair to transport Patrick, as well.”
Dr. Cathy Stevens
Dr. Wendell Moses