Josie Hull and her sister, Teresa, made national headlines 13 years ago when doctors separated the conjoined twins. Born in Guatemala, the girls were just one year old when they were brought to the United States for the 23-hour life-saving surgery at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Since then, both girls have made great strides.
Josie, an active 14-year-old middle school student, has tackled her mobility challenges with the help of Mary Free Bed. CEO Kent Riddle and Chief Medical Officer Michael Jakubowski met Josie and her mom, Jenny, at a 2014 conference in San Diego and invited them to see what our team of experts could do to help increase her mobility.
During their most recent visit in March, Josie worked with certified orthotist Lance Weersma to develop an orthosis that helps her stand independently and eventually walk on her own. The device Lance customized for Josie is called a “LSHKAFO” – a lumbar, sacral, hip, knee, ankle, foot orthosis.
“Josie refers to them as her ‘new legs,’” Lance said.
Josie has been using the device at her California home for therapy and some community ambulation. The goal is for Josie to develop better upper body and core strength so she eventually will be strong enough to begin eliminating portions of the orthosis, he explained.
The Hulls, who Lance said “are full of great energy and positivity,” will return to Mary Free Bed about every three months to continue Josie’s rehabilitation.
“They don’t shy away from hard work and welcome challenges if it means a brighter future,” Lance said. “We can modify her device to help her advance her legs when therapeutically walking. While it’s fairly large, it does allow us to start making steps to a more active, independent and joyful life for Josie.”
Mary Free Bed already has helped Josie reach one of her goals: During eighth-grade graduation ceremonies In May, she walked across the stage to receive her diploma to a standing ovation.