We are very proud to introduce our next Change Leader, pediatric orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles Price.
Dr. Price is rated as One of America’s Top Doctors. He is considered the World’s authority on forearm and distal radius fractures in children. He is also a leading authority on non-operative treatments for scoliosis, and management of Perthes’ Disease, a hip disorder in children. He is internationally known for his numerous clinical and academic achievements in pediatric orthopedics.
I am very excited about everything he’s doing as Medical Director of the non- profit, International Hip Dysplasia Institute and about his new book “Can You Feel It in Your Bones?” .
His book details his very touching family experience with the devasting effects of osteoporosis and bone loss. Determined to learn all he could to help with prevention of this all to common condition, he discovers the important role silicon and other essential nutrients play in bone health . His recent publication in Open Orthopedics Journal identifies specific nutritional components of bone health and their availability in the average American diet.
Dr. Price is also Henry’s physician. He is caring, genuine, humble, and brilliant. We have directly benefitted from his dedication to his profession. His work has helped Henry and countless children around the world. He is definitely a Change Leader.
Please give us a brief description of what you do and why you do it ?
I am a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who completed medical school in 1971. This allows me to care for children with limb and spine deformities caused by congenital conditions, growth disturbances, injuries, infections, other maladies. My father was a surgeon, and he was my role model, but the greatest influence was my mother who was a “preacher’s kid”. I was born in 1946, after World War II when doctors were still middle class and cared for everyone at all hours of the day and night. It was a professional calling as a public servant, and my mother viewed the role of a physician as similar to that of a pastor. I became a physician in order to be with people in their time of need and to do what I could to relieve their suffering. It is a blessing, a privilege, and fearsome responsibility to share intimate moments with people who have trusted you with their most precious possession, their child.
How did you get involved with pediatric orthopedic surgery?
I would say that Divine Guidance directed me to become a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. All of medicine was interesting to me although surgery had the most appeal. Mentors suggested that I could become a very good orthopedic surgeon, and they helped direct me towards orthopedic surgery. Children’s orthopedic surgery was particularly challenging and rewarding in ways that are too numerous to list.
Please tell us about the International Hip Dysplasia Institute.
The International Hip Dysplasia Institute is a non-profit organization that has grand plans for preventing hip dysplasia globally. This may be possible through education for post-natal care by parents and also education for physicians and midwives about infant hip exam, nutritional treatments, and proper hip positioning in the newborn period.
My paths crossed with a very wonderful family, the Whitneys, who had a boy born breech with a dislocated hip. Dan Whitney is a nationally known comedian, Larry the Cable Guy and he was a preacher’s kid who still has great fundamental values. They were referred for surgery after the initial non-surgical treatment had failed at another institution. After some discussion we decided to try again before proceeding with surgery and that was successful. Instead of questioning the previous doctor’s skills, the family challenged me to begin a website for parents and to organize a multi-national project to improve care for hip dysplasia. When I informed her that the beginning cost just to explore such an effort would cost $30,000, she wrote a check for the full amount and told me to get started. A week later she called to ask about progress on the feasibility study. I replied that I hadn’t even put the check into an account much less start working on a big new project. She sent another $30,000 and told me she was serious. A month later she called and asked if I’d started. I said “No” so she sent another $50,000 and said she was serious. At that point, her confidence in me was enough to get the ball rolling for the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. My role has been as an organizer and promoter. The real work is done by several dedicated academic physicians who have committed their careers to the study of hip dysplasia. The people assembled to develop this project were enthusiastic and have given hundreds of hours of time without any thought of compensation. They are passionate about helping people and that makes everything work out.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Profound questions rarely have simple answers. My life has been blessed and I am content. Family and loved ones matter the most. I cannot imagine being happy without being loved by those who know my faults and love me anyway. Helping others and achieving success are self-satisfying but those are the duties of a person who has been given much in life. The internal satisfaction of making a positive difference in our work is greater than any accolades or titles. Being internally satisfied with a job well done and being loved by those who would love you as a failure are my keys to happiness.
Which living person do you most admire?
My wife. She is a pillar of strength and a rudder in all things. Her sense of honesty, fairness and loyalty knows no bounds.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Besides marrying my wife and raising children, it would be the early recognition of early innovations in orthopedic surgery that have made a positive difference. The ability to retain and analyze large amounts of information on a subject has allowed me to recognize innovative ideas and promote them to colleagues. The International Hip Dysplasia Institute is such an example. My role has been to stimulate thinking and provide a voice to those who have the skills to prove or disprove new concepts. My achievements have been more those of a catalyst and connector than an innovator.
What do you value most in your friends?
Honesty, tolerance and loyalty
Who are your heroes in real life?
Everyday people who love each other and appreciate whatever they have. As a physician who treats anyone regardless of class or status, I have had the opportunity to care for children of billionaires, movie stars, professional athletes, as well as the children of prostitutes, drug addicts, homeless single mothers, and working class people in all steps of life. I love the parents who love their children and put their children’s interests above their own regardless of their emotional or financial circumstances. My heroes are the everyday people who have grace and kindness for others regardless of their difficulties or successes.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
More acceptance, tolerance and understanding. Everyone is trying to get through life the best way they know how. Some are dysfunctional while others are externally successful. Not everything is as it seems on the surface.
Any general advice for a person living with a disability? For their parents?
I don’t know about advice for people with disabilities. Most of the “disabled” people I’ve known don’t think of themselves as disabled. They seem to accept their limitations and move on except for a few who have emotional difficulties accepting themselves as they are. That’s especially true for children who have limitations. A child born without a hand does not know the World in any other form. That child views him or herself as normal and doesn’t understand the term disability except that there are some things he/she cannot do. I am disabled as an athlete because I am not 7 feet tall with a 36 inch vertical leap. Somehow, I have accepted that fact and moved on in life. Many people with disabilities do the same. If not, then my advice would be to do that or seek help in achieving that level of self-acceptance.
For their parents?
For parents, it is more difficult. I only hope that I would have the ability to be like the parents that I admire for accepting and loving their children as they are without attempting mold them into something that is impossible for the child to achieve. This seems to apply equally to parents of able-bodied children as to parents of disabled children. The awareness of a child’s limitations strike earlier for the parents of disabled children and that can upset the emotional balance. However, parents of able-bodied children often expect too much too fast from their own children. The love of a mother for child is a wondrous thing when it is pure and without anticipation of what that child might or might not become. The mother of a totally vegetative child can see light in the child’s eyes and know that a soul is inside that loves her and that she loves back. The mother of a highly gifted child may only see herself in the child and expect that child to live up to her expectations of greatness so that the mother can be satisfied in her role. My advice to parents is to love openly regardless of failures and difficulties. Do not be embarrassed by a child with limitations and do not be overly proud of a gifted child except to revel in the child’s achievements whatever they may be.
What change would you like to see in your lifetime?
World Peace is unlikely so I’ll stick to those things that are under my influence. I’d like to see global prevention of easily prevented disabilities like clubfoot, hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis. Improving these conditions would allow people to earn their living, avoid diseases, and feed themselves more easily. This is achievable on a large scale through education and nutrition. My remaining goals in life are to decrease the frequency of hip dysplasia and show women and men how to improve their bone health without medications. Nutritional supplementation with appropriate vitamins and minerals is the next major breakthrough in medicine. In the 1940s antibiotics were developed. This was followed by immunizations. This was followed by a period of technology with imaging, computerization, minimally invasive surgery, etc. The increasing awareness of nutrition as a cause of disease is an inexpensive method of improving care that has not been fully explored. For example, hip dysplasia in dogs is decreased by adding vitamin C to the diet of puppies. Also, nutrients such as silicon, vitamin K, boron, and magnesium may collectively be as important to bone health as calcium and vitamin D. Inositol, arginine and other nutrients also play a role in many musculoskeletal conditions.
What trait do you most value in others?
The ability to see life from the perspective of others. This does not mean that I am capable, but that is a valuable trait that produces loyalty, love, and understanding.
What’s your most marked characteristic?
Others could judge that better than me. Good characteristic is I am an observer of life and accept what happens although not with a sense that things are predetermined by fate. An example is that my first reaction is to like and trust everyone I meet and to allow myself to be vulnerable.
Bad characteristic is that I’m not very patient when people turn out to be selfish, lazy or paranoid after I’ve trusted them. I don’t dislike them but don’t have the patience to be around them while they self-destruct. I don’t hold grudges or harbor disappointment but simply choose to move on with my life.
What is your motto?
“Study to show thyself approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15). To me this means that one should do an honest day’s labor and also hold to the truth in all things including self-assessment.
Work as though everything depends on you, expecting God to back your best with His almighty power.