With great bracing comes great responsibility: 6-year-old with scoliosis transforms into his favorite superheroes in elaborate photoshoots

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Six-year-old Liam began receiving treatment for early onset scoliosis at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland when he was just 2 years old. Liam’s mother Sarah was afraid that his medical condition would create a negative experience in his childhood, so she immediately went to work on turning it into a positive one. She embraced Liam’s scoliosis treatment by using his braces to create fantastical photos of her son depicted as his favorite superheroes.

Captain Liam for freedom

“Ultimately, the big picture becomes the most important thing, and knowing you are doing everything possible to give your child the best possible outcome overpowers the small things you may miss.”- Sarah

Six-year-old Liam began receiving treatment for early onset scoliosis at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland when he was just 2 years old. To help prevent the progression of the 30 degree spinal curve, Liam’s pediatric orthopaedic physician (Joseph I. Krajbich M.D.) recommended the Mehta-Cotrel casting method, which requires Liam to wear a series of corrective casts as he grows. Liam’s mother Sarah was afraid that his medical condition would create a negative experience in his childhood, so she immediately went to work on turning it into a positive one. She embraced Liam’s scoliosis treatment by using his braces to create fantastical photos of her son depicted as his favorite superheroes.

Sarah has coordinated and staged photoshoots of Liam as Spider-Man, Batman, Buzz Lightyear, Captain America, Thor, Superman, Hiccup, and even Seattle Seahawks superstar Russell Wilson – who Liam got to meet! His most recent photoshoot shows Liam channeling The Force as the famous Star Wars character Obi-Wan Kenobi.

“The casting treatments were a difficult pill to swallow as a parent. You think about the things your child will be missing out on because of the cast,” said Sarah, who is a professional photographer based in Puyallup, WA. “Ultimately, the big picture becomes the most important thing, and knowing you are doing everything possible to give your child the best possible outcome overpowers the small things you may miss.”

As part of his treatment plan, Liam is typically fitted for a new brace every 9 to 12 months by Certified Orthotist Prosthetist Todd DeWees, and every time he gets a new brace, the transformation begins. Using a variety of outdoor vinyl materials to design the costumes, Sarah creates the ensemble needed for Liam to save the world. “Todd has definitely figured out what we’re up to,” said Sarah. “Every time Liam gets a new brace, Todd asks ‘What color do you need this time?’”

“Liam loves the photoshoots. It is the highlight of our week. We have turned them into adventures each time. It is always an absolute blast for him,” said Sarah. “Liam has a long road ahead of him. I'm trying to teach him that through hard times come good moments – that if you look hard enough at the hard road in front of you, you will see a positive path. My hope is that when he looks back at this time in his life, it will make him smile.”

About Shriners Hospitals for Children
Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Our health care system provides advanced care for children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. All care and services are provided regardless of the families' ability to pay. Shriners Hospitals for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. For more information, please visit ShrinersHospitalsforChildren.org

Video and Photo Assets for Download:

Image Gallery

Full interview of Liam's mom

Q&A video clips:

Can you explain Liam’s condition and treatment?

How did the superhero idea come about?

Liam, who is your favorite and second favorite super hero?

How did the orthotics team at Shriners Hospital in Portland help with Liam's superhero transformations?

What do you hope Liam will get out of this experience?

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Whitney Grisewood
@shrinershosp
since: 06/2008
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