Sports Participation for Children with Limb Deficiencies

CHARLES H. EPPS, JR., M.D. AND D'ORSAY D. BRYANT, III, M.D.


During the past 30 years, more than 500 limb deficient children have been encouraged to achieve success through participation in either competitive or recreational sports. Our juvenile amputee clinic is involved in the current management of 110 patients, with either congenital limb deficiencies or traumatic extremity amputations sustained at an early age. A survey was conducted of the 41 amputees in our clinic, between 5 and 21 years of age, regarding their competitive and recreational activities.

The 41 amputees participated in a total of 152 sports, which included, swimming, football, baseball, basketball, archery, bowling, diving, snow-skiing, water-skiing, ice hockey, tennis, baton twirling, gymnastics, horseback riding, track, volleyball, and wheelchair sports. All of the survey respondents indicated that sports activities provided a healthy self-image.

The tremendous progress in prosthetic technology has allowed limb deficient children to increase their involvement in athletics. The Carbon Copy II prosthetic foot and Seattle Foot are energy-saving designs which permit the athlete to have better toe-off in ambulation and a more natural gait pattern. New sockets based on suction adherence permit a better fit and alignment of the prosthesis for juvenile amputees and allow the athlete to participate more energetically in sports activities. Children with limb deficiencies can now compete more vigorously in sports events due to prostheses made with lighterweight materials, such as carbon graphite, various plastics, and titanium.

Handicapped and Crippled Children's Unit, District of Columbia General Hospital, 301 G Street, S.W., Suite 419, Washington D.C. 20024