Three years ago, nine-year old Cooper Thomas from Geographe was diagnosed with Perthes’ disease which has prevented him from playing many sports he loved.
Perthes’ disease affects children and occurs when blood supply to the thighbone is temporarily disrupted causing bone cells to die, pain and limiting motion, according to OrthoInfo.org.
“I cannot run, skip, jump, hop, wrestle, play rugby or do what I would normally do out the front with our friends,” he said.
“I miss playing those sports but there are still lots of other sports I can do.”
Cooper’s mum Jaye said the initial stages of the disease were very painful and Cooper went 10 months without being diagnosed.
“We could not figure out why Cooper was so sore, he could not get up during the night and he could not get up the stairs at school,” she said.
“It is not painful now, but we need to avoid any pain. In the initial stages it was significantly painful for Cooper.”
After being diagnosed, Cooper was told swimming was one sport he could still participate in without it impacting his hip.
This year he has decided to join in the Busselton Jetty Kids Swim and will be supported by his 10-year old brother Mason.
“It takes a lot of courage to complete,” he said.
“We should do quite well because we have done it a few times, I will do my best, have fun and hopefully at least beat my brother.”
Mason said they used to do a lot of sports together such as play rugby and run and that Cooper was always trying to sneak in sports he shouldn’t be doing.
He said it was pretty hard to believe his younger brother had Perthes’ disease because it only affected one in 10,000 children.
“It was kind of upsetting to see Cooper not being able to do all the things he wanted to do and I wanted to do with him,” Mason said.
“At the swim, I will try and work out the weaknesses of the competition and use it to my advantage, and of course, have fun.”
The SunSmart Busselton Jetty Kids Swim takes place on Sunday, February 11. To register visit busseltonjettyswim.org.au.