If you’re from the Central Florida area, you’ve most likely heard of Shaquem Griffin. He's the one-handed UCF Football alum who was recently drafted onto the Seattle Seahawks at this year’s NFL Draft. His story of overcoming hardship and his disability is truly inspiring.
Born less than two minutes after his twin brother, Shaquill, Shaquem was affected by amniotic band syndrome, a condition that caused his left hand to develop irregularly. By the time he was four, the condition was causing him so much pain that his parents took him to have it amputated. The brothers shared a dream to play professional sports together and they also shared the determination to make it a reality. The brothers ran track, played baseball and football, and trained for their dream, undaunted by Shaquem's supposed disability.
To reach his current level, Shaquem worked hard and sought help from sports medicine professionals. He has gone through increased workout and physical therapy sessions in order to balance the strength and coordination of both arms. Shaquem continues to rely on trainers and professionals who know how to best keep his strength consistent as he continues to follow his brother and their shared dream to the NFL.
We reached out to our own Doctor of Physical Therapy, Trevor Hicks, to get some insight into the challenges Shaquem faced. “In my experience working with patients with amputations and/or prosthetics it's not only a physical challenge but an emotional battle. Coping with this new permanent situation can be tough, to go from moving freely with all extremities to now missing part or all of a limb. Not only does the brain have to accommodate but also your mindset and overall daily function which for some can be challenging. I've seen a lot of denial and hard days filled with depression but I've also seen a lot of impressive challenges being overcome,” Trevor says.
Perhaps the most inspiring impact Griffin has made has been on other young athletes around the world. Griffin’s viral video that featured several young athletes who face challenges due to amniotic band syndrome shows that with enough determination, support, and self-care, anyone can participate in the world of sports and competition. His example is inspiring young athletes born with amniotic band syndrome all across the world.
“My most memorable patient is a young man who was diagnosed with bone cancer that had to have part of his leg amputated. He was faced with the option of the entire leg being taken or just the upper part and then having his shin bone reattached, a rather unknown procedure called a rotationplasty. In essence, his foot now would be acting as his new knee to go into his prosthetic,” Trevor explained.
“This young man had every reason to feel life was against him, but instead I have never seen anything but hard work and determination from him. I made sure to have some fun mixed in there, of course. He has gone from barely being able to walk with a walker putting any weight on his leg to now walking independently without any kind of assistance other than his prosthetic,” Trevor recalled.
“But this kid is a trooper and someone I want in my life forever because he's a fighter and someone I want my young son and daughter to meet and emulate his resiliency and work ethic. On his path to physical, emotional, and spiritual wholeness we formed a lifelong bond and I'm as proud as I can be of him,” Trevor said.
Physical therapy got Shaquem to the NFL — what can it do for you? No matter the challenges you're facing, Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation team is here to help you through it. Whether you're recovering from an injury or just want to become better at your game, reach out to us at FHSportsMed.com or call 407-303-8080 for more information regarding our services and locations near you.