Skip to main content
UC Davis Children’s Hospital

UC Davis Children’s Hospital

Pediatric Orthopaedic Services

Pediatric orthopaedists are the best-trained doctors to properly evaluate and treat musculoskeletal (bone, joint, or muscle) problems in children who are still growing, from newborn babies through teenagers.

Because children are still growing, the body’s response to injuries, infections, and deformities may be quite different than what would be seen in a full-grown person. They cannot always say what is bothering them, answer medical questions, or cooperate during a medical examination. Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons know how to examine and treat children in a way to help them relax and cooperate.

Children with complex pediatric problems are best managed by a medical-surgical team approach. Pediatric orthopaedic surgeons diagnose, treat, and manage such children’s musculoskeletal problems as:

  • Limb and spine deformities noted at birth or later in life (clubfoot, scoliosis, limb length differences)
  • Gait abnormalities (limping)
  • Broken bones
  • Bone or joint infections and tumors

The UC Davis Pediatric Orthopaedic Service combines the resources of UC Davis Health System and Shriners’ Hospital for Children, Northern California (SHCNC), to provide comprehensive musculoskeletal care for children, including:

  • Reconstructive pediatric orthopaedics
  • Pediatric orthopaedic trauma
  • Limb deficiencies and prosthetics
  • Hand and upper extremity surgery
  • Spine surgery
  • Sports medicine
  • Neuromuscular conditions
  • Spinal cord injury rehabilitation

U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the Pediatric Orthopaedic Service as a leader in its 2013-2014 rankings of children’s hospitals in the United States. Being ranked in the magazine’s annual survey is a distinction given to only 80 children’s hospitals in the United States, and the UC Davis program ranked 41st in pediatric orthopaedics.

Pediatric hand and upper-extremity surgeon Michelle James heads the UC Davis pediatric orthopaedic team. A UC Davis professor, she has a special interest in congenital malformations, reconstruction of the upper extremity after spinal cord injury, and reconstruction of the burned hand. She is an investigator with the Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials, or NeuroNEXT, which is designed to expand the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke’s capability to test promising new therapies.

The team includes Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery George Rab, co-director of the Motion Analysis Laboratory, SHCNC. Motion analysis gives doctors a picture of how the muscles and bones are functioning. This helps them better understand the gait of children with cerebral palsy, for example, and create treatment plans with less guesswork and better outcomes.

Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Jennette Boakes’ interests include treatment of hip dysplasia in children and adolescents, congenital and acquired limb deformity, leg length discrepancy, congenital disorders of the foot (including clubfoot), and fracture care. Her research interests include spastic muscle, muscle adaptation to leg lengthening, and gait analysis.           

Pediatric Orthopaedic Fellowship Director Debra Popejoy, an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery, focuses on reconstruction, scoliosis, sports, and trauma. Her research interests include slipped capital femoral epiphysis, a disorder of the adolescent hip that typically develops during periods of accelerated growth after the onset of puberty.