Grasshopper boy

Fifteen-year-old Ulrich from Cameroon in West Africa was very concerned about his future. “If as a teenager it is already very painful for me to move around on my sticks” says Ulrich, “how will I be able to do it when I am older”. What also frustrated him was not being able to help his mother around the house, by fetching water and firewood. He hated the way people would stare at him and sometimes laugh at his deformed legs.

Ulrich suffered from quadriceps contracture, a condition where his muscles had not grown as fast as his bones. It was one of the worst cases that the orthopaedic team had ever seen, and they had to make a tough decision. To allow Ulrich to stand straight up and have a normal appearance they would have to sacrifice some of the movement he had in his legs. Ulrich knew exactly what he wanted, and after discussing it all with his mother, the decision was made.

His legs were straightened one at a time, partly because the recover from such an invasive surgery is very painful. Ulrich was very brave and each time suffered through the recovery process like a champion. Even after such extensive surgery, Ulrich will probably never be able to bend his legs more than 10 or 20 degrees. However, Ulrich is really happy with the results! He can now stand straight up, walk to school without people staring, and even fetch water and firewood for his mum.

To Ulrich the results are nothing short of a miracle! At least now he can worry about the normal things a teenager should have to think about, instead of thinking all the time about how hard adult life would be with his deformity. Ulrich has new hope for a full and productive life, just like his brothers and sisters!