CLICK HERE for latest COVID information.


Little Boy Missing Lower Leg Is On The Move Thanks to Good Shepherd

February 24, 2017

One look at his smile is all it takes to know that 5-year-old Sudan Clemens is a special kid. It is a feeling that his adoptive mom Kim knows all too well and is one of the many reasons Sudan is now a permanent part of her family.

Sudan came to Kim through a foster agency in Philadelphia when he was 15 months old because his previous foster family could not accommodate his needs. Born with a leg deformity known as proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD), Sudan has a fully formed foot and a very short femur (thigh bone), meaning his lower leg is absent. As a registered nurse, Kim had the background to get Sudan the care he needed.

Kim immediately made an appointment for Sudan to see an orthopedic specialist. She wanted to understand more about PFFD, how it affected Sudan and how she could best help him. After the orthopedic consult, Kim brought Sudan to Good Shepherd Physical Therapy – Souderton for an evaluation. Therapist Gillian Arnaboldi, PT, DPT, was the first GSPT staff member to meet Sudan.

“When Sudan first came to us for therapy, we were all amazed at how strong his upper body was,” says Gillian. “Without the use of his legs, he relied on his arms to get himself around. He literally could climb anything but understandably lagged on physical developmental milestones.”

Very soon after starting therapy, Sudan was outfitted with a leg prosthesis. It was the first time he ever stood on both legs. To help him adjust, Gillian focused on building his strength and helping him develop better balance. Twice a week, she worked with Sudan on how to shift his balance and coordinate his leg movement, skills he had never needed before.

Jessica Thomas, PT, DPT, also worked with Sudan, using obstacle courses and and fun exercises to help him with weight acceptance and navigation. Sudan made huge strides through therapy, from taking his first step on two legs, getting dressed and riding a bike. He says that he loved coming to Good Shepherd for therapy because he “can play baseball now.”

From Kim’s perspective, being a first-time foster mom to a child with special needs was a huge adjustment.

“It was overwhelming at first,” says Kim. Thankfully, she persevered, and the progress Sudan has made is nothing short of miraculous.

“When Sudan first came to us, we were told about all the things he would never do,” says Kim. “Today, he can ride a bike, play basketball and go on the playground just like any other child. When he has pants on, people do not even realize he wears prosthesis, because he never complains about anything.”

Sudan still faces challenges, including surgery to re-align his hip, but he will not have to face those challenges alone. Kim formally adopted Sudan, which means he now has his mom and two younger sisters for support moving forward.