Special Focus: Congenital Limb Difference

I am constantly amazed by the resilience and amazing resourcefulness of the children we have met in China with congenital limb difference.  These kids consistently find a way to get things done.  They have never experienced their body any differently, so they intuitively find ways to make it work—to make everything they want to happen, happen.

What is Congenital Limb Difference?

“Congenital “ means the child is born with the condition and “limb difference”, as you may have guessed, refers to any anomaly in the arms or legs. Their limbs are different. It could mean they are missing a bone in their leg, or even an entire hand. It refers to fingers that are fused and feet that are cleft.  It may be that a part of the limb or the whole limb is unusually large, or unusually small.   

What might treatment look like?

Treatments for congenital limb difference varies, depending on the cause and severity of the condition. The goal of treatment is to maximize function, to help them do everything they want to do.  Some children will not need any formal treatment. Some kids might use a prosthetic limb.  For others treatment may include surgeries or therapies.  Other children, especially those with upper limb differences, might benefit from adaptive equipment.

Who should we get involved?

Ideally children with congenital limb differences should be followed by a multidisciplinary clinic including an orthopedic surgeon, physical or occupational therapist and an orthotist/prosthetist.  This team can help your family determine the best plan for your child at every age.

Here are some amazing kids we have met with Congenital Limb Difference:






- Keely O'Dell

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