NY1.com—April 28, 2013
For 26 years, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Leon Root from Hospital for Special Surgery and teams of pediatric and orthopedic residents have been making their way to different elementary schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, screening children in medically under-served communities for musculoskeletal and rheumatological conditions.
"We've examined close to 27,000 children in that time, and we've referred over 4,000 children for some type of problem," Root says.
Kids at P.S 142's Educational Alliance Head Start on the Lower East Side were the latest to take part in the program.
"What we're looking at is their general posture, the way they walk, the position of their feet and legs, if they have any deformities," Root says. "We look at their spine to make sure they don't have any curvatures, then also we check out their agility and their coordination."
Root says identifying issues early can change a child's life.
"We've caught all sorts of different things. Some of them significant, some of them maybe a child with a bad flat foot that needs a cookie in their shoe, or a little orthotic," Root says.
Johanna Castillo, age 11, has had issues with her shoulder since birth. She's been in therapy at HSS for the last year after being identified in one of Root's Pediatric Outreach Programs.
"Now I can carry my own book bag, help my mom with the grocery bags," says Johanna.
Reynalda Jimenez, Johanna's mother, says, "It has been very good for her and her self-esteem because before she needed help to do pretty much everything."
Root says orthopedic screenings are not a standard part of most doctor check-ups. He says one symptom parents should pay attention to is consistent complaints of pain.
"A child that wakens at night with pain, one has to be very careful about. That needs an immediate work-up," Root says.
This story originally appeared at ny1.com.