Boy with Perthes Disease Forms Bond with Dallas Cowboys’ Cooper Rush


Throughout his life, Gavin Miller has overcome many struggles. As a young child, Gavin always loved hockey. But when he was in a hockey program at age four, he began experiencing some potential health issues. His knees hurt and one thighbone didn’t seem to be growing like it should. After he began limping, his parents took him to get checked up at the doctor. It was then, shares WILX 10, that Gavin was diagnosed with Perthes disease, a rare childhood condition that affects the hip. 

Gavin underwent surgery at age five, but soon needed a follow-up surgery. His family couldn’t afford it at the time, so they began fundraising and getting support from The International Perthes Foundation. As they were going through this process, someone suggested asking Cooper Rush, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, for an auction item. 

And just like that, the bond between Gavin and Cooper blossomed. Cooper Rush came to the hospital whenever Gavin was undergoing different procedures and tests, providing unmatched support. Whenever Gavin was visiting Dallas, his family would visit Cooper Rush at home, playing video games and tossing around a football. Cooper even placed Gavin’s name, face, and #Perthes on his cleats during the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats. 

Now, at age eleven, Gavin is disease-free and ready to inspire others. He loves playing Fortnite, checking out cool Youtube videos, playing football and wrestling, and cheering on the Dallas Cowboys. More importantly, he wants people to know that they too can make it through difficult times and come out on top. 

What is Perthes Disease?

Perthes disease, or Legg-Calves-Perthes disease, is a rare childhood hip condition which most often affects children between ages four and ten. This condition occurs 5x more often in boys than girls. In 10-15% of cases, both hips are affected. It occurs when blood supply to the femur is interrupted, causing bone cells to die. The exact cause is unknown. As Perthes disease progresses, the bone may break or change shape, eventually causing the femoral head to collapse. Over time, and with treatment, blood supply returns and the bone re-forms.

Symptoms and characteristics of Perthe disease can include:

  • Limping
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain in the hip, groin, thigh, or knee that worsens with physical activity
  • Hip and leg stiffness 
  • Muscle spasms
  • Increased risk of arthritis in adulthood

Treatment options include specific types of leg casts, surgery, physical therapy, physical activity restrictions, and anti-inflammatory treatments.

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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