OI:Patient Stories-Natalie Brosh
Natalie Brosh is a young patient of Dr. Shapiro who has been followed for a long time. The accounts below summarize her trials with OI as well as her achievements.
Like most seven-year-olds, Natalie Brosh maintained a jam-packed schedule. Besides school, Natalie competed on a swim team and took piano lessons. Natalie is living proof that having osteogenesis imperfecta does not have to prevent a child from living an active life—or even from being an athlete.
“Natalie takes part in almost everything,” says her mother, Kathy. “They modify her gym class requirements at school so she doesn’t have to participate in any contact sports, but that’s about it.”
Natalie’s body developed differently almost from birth. Her limbs were too flexible, and her head seemed a little large for the rest of her body. She refused to put any weight on her legs. At 6 ½ months, Natalie broke her humerus, the bone between her elbow and shoulder. Shortly thereafter, doctors diagnosed her with osteogenesis imperfecta. Since then, she’s broken approximately 15 large bones and countless ribs. She had bilateral foot surgery last summer to stabilize the ligaments in her ankles, and got a back brace to treat her scoliosis.
Natalie’s physical therapist recommended tai chi after foot surgery and Natalie jumped right into the program,”I like to do tai chi. It makes my legs stronger and helps my back get straighter.”
In addition to being fun and relaxing, said Dr. Shapiro, “I supported her involvement in tai chi from the beginning because, with all the stretching activity involved, it would help her improve joint function and build bone mass.”
As of May 2009, Natalie is 13 years old. A Distinguished Honor Roll student, she has garnered science fair awards, took on the exciting role of a newspaper editor, and was the Vice President of Student Council in her elementary school. One would hardly be able to guess the challenges that have faced Natalie for most of her childhood.
Natalie has had nearly 30 fractures and numerous surgeries on her feet, legs, ankles, knees, hands, and recently, a spinal fusion to correct severe scoliosis. Because of pain and swelling from fractures and inflammation in her feet, she occasionally uses a cane, crutches, or a wheelchair.
Despite the obstacles of being a teenager with OI, Natalie has a very positive outlook on life and prefers to focus on the things she can do, instead of the things she can’t. Her attitude toward life has blossomed into quite an impressive slate of accomplishments.
For the past 7 years, Natalie has continued to swim 4 days a week on the swim team. She aims to break her personal best records at swim meets and has won awards for sportsmanship. Natalie has also been keeping up with the piano and received awards at the county (5 consecutive “1st place” ribbons at the Harford County Piano Teacher’s Festival) and state (6 consecutive “Superior” ratings at the Maryland Federation of Piano Clubs competition) levels. In addition, she has won awards in music composition at the school and county levels.
Her talents do not stop at swimming and music—Natalie has won several creative writing awards, winning first place in poetry and prose in the Harford County Reading Council Young Author’s Writing Contest, among other awards at the county and district level.
Natalie was both the Hopkins Children’s Ambassador Champion as well as the Children’s Miracle Network Ambassador for Maryland in 2008. She is also active in her community as a liturgist at her church. In addition, she was recently honored as a “Woman of Tomorrow” for 2009 from the Maryland Commission on Women.
Natalie continues to illustrate with her life that having osteogenesis imperfecta does not stop her from pursuing her dreams and making contributions to her community.
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