Youngster Enjoys His Favorite Sports

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Spencer Messecar is an energetic, happy, outgoing 11-year-old who loves sports--especially skiing. He's also enthusiastic about swimming and golf, a sport his father also loves. In school, one of his favorite subjects is science.

Spencer, or "Spence" as he is known to family and friends, also was born with congenital limb difference. He is missing his entire left arm and left shoulder bone and was born with a very short femur and only one lower leg bone ("either a very large fibula or a very small tibia," says his mother, Gwen), due to proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD), a condition occurring once in every 50,000 births.

Spencer, a sixth-grader, attends a French immersion school, in which many regular subjects are taught in French, or introduced in English, then continued in French, thus giving students an in-depth command of Canada's second official language. "We felt it would help Spence later in career and employment opportunities," says Gwen.

Spencer underwent a Symes amputation on his left foot at the age of seven months. When he was about two, the surgeon tried an unsuccessful fusion of the lower bone to the femur. When Spencer was about four, a successful bone fusion was performed. "It straightened out a lot of angles," says Gwen. "He's much better now."

Spencer's Ski Leg

Spencer started downhill skiing at age six. The first year, he used a conventional prosthesis, but since then every year he has had a new "ski leg." The leg is the brainchild of an engineering and prosthetic design team at Bloorview MacMillan Children's Centre, Toronto, Ontario.

The prosthesis features a special shock absorber system just above the ankle joint and an Otto Bock 3R38 modular single-axis knee joint. The knee is restricted to 35 degrees of flexion which provides more effective ski control and enables Spencer to snowplow when needed. A ski boot is aligned and strapped in position. Spencer's prosthetist is Linh Le, CPO (c).

Spencer's athletic prowess has helped give him a solid, muscular body, including a strong right arm--a big help in his golf game. Spencer, who has been playing golf for about four years, enjoys hitting the links with his dad, Dave.

And what about the future? What would he like to do? Well, at age 11, he's not really sure, but says, "Something with computers, I think."

Says his mom, "He has a very positive attitude. He's a great kid!"