Feb 24, 2022 / Clubfoot & Foot Disorders

Share Your Story: Defying Gravity

Meet Allison, a patient who is treated by our experts in the Center for Excellence in Clubfoot and Foot Disorders. Learn more about her journey below.

Blog written by Allison's mother, Deidre. 

Allison was 4 years old when she started experiencing frequent falls. She could not get off the ground with her own strength, and we knew something was very wrong. We took her to our pediatrician, and after observing her walking, we were told that we needed to get to a specialist as soon as possible. Allison was quickly diagnosed with CMT1A, a progressive neuromuscular disease that affects peripheral nerves and causes muscle atrophy. The day she was diagnosed with CMT1A we were referred to an orthopedist at Scottish Rite for Children, and we saw Dr. Podeszwa. Allison's CMT started progressing quickly, and within a few months, she was fitted for leg braces to help stabilize her as she had fallen and suffered two breaks within a year. As Allison's CMT continued to progress, her amazing team of specialists at Scottish Rite grew and that is when we started seeing Dr. Riccio.  

One morning Allison woke up, and her foot and ankle had completely turned in on the right side. She could not straighten it, and honestly, this was her worst nightmare but also the nature of the disease. Allison slowly started to lose strength and muscle in her legs and back. She quickly went from needing a walker to get around, to walking on her tip toes and eventually requiring a wheelchair for mobility. 

It was then that Dr. Riccio and his team began preparing her, physically and mentally, for a life-changing surgery. An external fixator would be placed on her leg and used for a gradual correction of her foot deformity. In preparation for this surgery, she completed more than a year of physical therapy to increase strength in her foot and ankle. With every ounce of hope and faith in her body, Allison underwent surgery in 2018. She called her entire journey defying gravity. 

The recovery was every bit as hard as she expected, and there were many times that she wanted to give up. Faith, family and friends, along with a burning desire to walk again, kept her going. Nine months after surgery, and under the supervision of her Scottish Rite physical therapists, Allison took her first steps – for the second time in her life. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. She has since had additional surgeries at Scottish Rite, and her life is forever changed. Thanks to Dr. Ricco, Dr. Zide, her nurse Haley, and the rest of the team, she has truly defied gravity.  

During her hospital stays, Allison developed her love for art and wants to pursue a career in design. She is in the marching band at her high school and writes an advice column for her school newspaper. Allison’s nickname is Sparkles – her passion for life is contagious and spreads to all around her, people tell her she “walks with joy.” 

Scottish Rite is our family. We spent many long nights in the hospital, and even in the hardest and darkest moments, we never felt hopeless. I always felt like the doctors, nurses and other staff were walking right alongside us. 



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