“It’s changed my life.”

We never know when fate will take a turn that could alter our life forever. For Lauryn Kapiloff, it happened on a family vacation. Her mother, Tracy, begins the story: “We were on a ski vacation over Christmas, four or five years ago.”

“My skis crossed in the back,” recalls Lauryn, “and I hit a tree.”

Her mother Tracy described the injury: “They realized that she had a femur fracture, but in her growth plate.” Even after the fracture in her upper right leg healed, the leg would end up shorter, posing a life-changing challenge. “After she completed her growing, Lauryn would have had a two and a half inch discrepancy from one leg to the other.”

The Houston surgeon who originally treated Lauryn recommended a limb lengthening procedure using the PRECICE system. When that physician announced his retirement, the family chose Dr. Mark Dahl to work with Lauryn.

Dr. Dahl described his approach: “When a family decides to have a bone lengthening procedure, we analyze the patient by examining them, getting a history of how this developed, what their specific problem is, and set realistic goals; what we can accomplish. And make sure that you’ve got a match, and make sure that your expectations will be satisfied.”

Dr. Dahl explained Lauryn’s condition and how the PRECICE system would be used to correct it: “So, you can see here this sweet little child has got a short leg, and this right leg is three and a half centimeters shorter than the left leg. We want to do an osteotomy right through this healthy portion of the bone here, straighten the bone at surgery, and then put the rod backwards up inside her femur, lock it in place, and then begin the lengthening about a week later.”

Dr. Dahl compared normal, unaided bone healing with the results of PRECICE limb lengthening. “Oftentimes, the bone straightens itself spontaneously, and remodels with growth of the child. And there are times that a child can have a fracture at the age of four, and you can never see it on an x-ray at the age of 14. The same is true with bone lengthening sites.”

Lauryn and her mother remember the extension process, with Lauryn saying, “I had to deal in lengthening four times a day for a minute each time.” Tracy says, “It was a part of our daily life for the regimen that he prescribed.”

Still, Tracy recalls, “She could do everything. We swam in a pool, we went and visited her friends at camp, we went to a baseball game, and you couldn’t tell that there was anything going on with her.”

Looking at images taken a year later, Dr. Dahl says, “Notice that her legs are nice and straight; they’re matched. The rod has done its job, and the body has done its job. Removing the device is straightforward. It’s best if the surgeon that put it in is the one that takes it out. Generally not too much pain afterwards, generally not too much restriction of activities.”

Tracy helped Lauryn with the sometimes difficult rehabilitation phase. “It was a challenge, it was painful, and she didn’t want to do it every time because you have to know that it’s a commitment. You have to go to the doctor, you have to do the x-rays, you have to do the lengthening even when your child doesn’t want to, even when it’s uncomfortable. So I would say, ‘It’s going to be worth it in the end.’ And now that she’s able to participate in everything she wants to, she realizes that all her hard work paid off.”

Lauryn’s view is very positive. “I really love the arts. I liked singing, and dancing, and acting. I hadn’t done just dance, and I really wanted to try it. Now that I’ve had the surgery, it’s just so much better.”

And, how does she sum up her PRECICE leg lengthening experience? Lauryn says, “It’s changed my life.”