Always quick with a joke or a smile, Josh Severson has always known how to make people happy.
His parents were overjoyed with his arrival, but grew concerned when they saw he was born with a birth defect, 2 clubbed feet.
“I was high-risk so my entire pregnancy was monitored closely, yet no-one detected anything with Josh’s development,” said Generosa, Josh’s mom. “Josh’s feet were severely deformed so my immediate reaction was how is this going to impact him; how can I help him.”
Josh came to Akron Children’s Clubfoot Clinic within days of his birth. Dr. Patrick Riley, Sr. used a series of castings and bracing, known as the Ponseti method, to gently manipulate the tissues in Josh’s feet, including tendons, ligaments and certain bones, to correct their position over several months.
Due to the severity of Josh’s clubbed feet, he still needed Achilles lengthening surgery after his castings. At 3 months old, Josh had his first surgery to help his feet stretch and grow into the right position.
Despite being in casts and bracing for most of his first year of life, Josh didn’t slow down. He learned to roll over, crawl or “butt scoot,” stand up and was walking by 14 months old!
Around age 2, Josh’s mom noticed his eyes shaking back and forth so she made an appointment with the Akron Children’s Vision Center. Dr. Richard Hertle diagnosed Josh with congenital nystagmus, which causes the eyes to make repetitive, involuntary movements. About 6 months after diagnosis, the symptoms subsided, but Josh still needed glasses for reading.
A year later, Josh was still having trouble with his feet so he had tendon transfer surgery to help with flexibility and range of motion. Each leg was in a cast, from thigh to toe, for 12 weeks, so Josh had to relearn how to walk once the casts came off.
“Dr. Riley said Josh’s therapy for recovery was just letting him be a kid, and he was right,” said Generosa. “Dr. Riley does a wonderful job of making Josh feel comfortable…Josh wouldn’t be where he’s at today if it weren’t for Dr. Riley’s support.”
To further improve his walking, Dr. Riley reconstructed Josh’s right foot entirely, moving bones and tendons. The procedure meant more leg casts for 8 weeks and some rehabilitation, but it also resulted in improved appearance and reduced foot pain for Josh.
With no upcoming surgeries planned, Josh enjoys spending time being silly on his YouTube channel, learning how to play the guitar, staying active in Bear Scouts, and moving up the ranks in Taekwondo, where he’s currently a green belt.
Josh’s story will be one of many patient stories shared at this year’s 98.1 KDD Radiothon benefiting Akron Children’s Hospital. Tune in Feb. 11-12 to hear his and other inspiring patient stories and go to akronchildrens.org/radiothon to donate.