Mum whose family has broken 400 bones between them tells of life with brittle bone disease

Mum whose family has broken 400 bones between them tells of life with brittle bone disease
  • PublishedOctober 6, 2023

‘The hospital knows us very well.’

Thirteen members of Amanda Reiman’s family have been affected by a life-changing condition that has been passed down four generations.

From her 84-year-old grandfather to her two-year-old daughter, Amanda’s extended family has broken more than 400 bones among them.

Her son Aiden, aged 11, “has been in a cast more than he hasn’t”.

And even the slightest wrong move for some family members can result in broken bones, usually necessitating a trip to hospital emergency.

“We break them so often it’s no point counting them,” Amanda says.

Many of Amanda’s family has Osteogenesis imperfecta or “brittle bones”, a genetic disorder that impacts the body’s ability to produce collagen, leaving bones weakened.

Aiden, now 11, has been in a cast more often than not.
Aiden, now 11, has been in a cast more often than not. Credit: Supplied

Amanda knows the condition all too well.

Her mother Jenny has it, as do three of her four children – Amanda being one.

“Mum never wrapped us in cotton wool though,” Amanda says.

“She wanted us to live normally.”

The South Australian remembers running around like any average kid but she also recalls being more on the cautious side, because breaking a bone is never “fun”.

Aiden has had nearly 50 broken bones
Aiden has had nearly 50 broken bones Credit: Supplied

Now, a mother of three (her middle child does not have the disorder), Amanda counts herself lucky she has broken ‘only’ 22 bones – not including fingers and toes.

One day Aiden bent over to pick up his school bag which had become entwined on one of Amanda’s toes.

As he pulled the bag upwards, the strap snapped Amanda’s toe forward, resulting in a fairly nasty break.

The mum laughs at the number of silly actions that have resulted in a broken toe, including the time her husband pulled the quilt up with her toes tangled in the duvet.

“They break so easily,” she says.

It’s not only the “big falls” either – just rolling her ankle on uneven ground can cause bones in Amanda’s foot to break.

Life of casts

Aiden as well as Amanda’s youngest daughter, Amber, two, also have Osteogenesis imperfecta.

“Aiden currently has his arm in a cast, but all up he has had about 45 breaks and three full body casts,” Amanda says.

“Amber has only had two fractures.

“The hospital knows us very well.”

Amber in a cast after a fracture.
Amber in a cast after a fracture. Credit: Supplied

Aiden’s latest break happened when he was playing soccer with friends in the backyard.

He slipped, fell backwards and held his arms out to catch his fall – and instantly the pre-teen’s forearm snapped under the pressure.

“He was screaming and I just ran towards him,” the mum recalls.

“He had two elbows for a minute.”

From her kids starting primary school in two moonboots, to being immobilised in full body casts after more silly accidents, nothing surprises the mum these days.

“Whenever the school calls, I just pick up my keys and know I will most likely be headed to the hospital for another cast,” she says.

Amanda has also invested in soft furnishings for the house and items that are low to the ground.

Amber, two, fell off the lounge resulting in a broken leg and femur.
Amber, two, fell off the lounge resulting in a broken leg and femur. Credit: Supplied

Just after Amber’s first birthday, the baby girl slipped sideways off the couch and shattered her leg.

“The drop was only 30cm,” Amanda says.

“But she is a little daredevil.”

Amanda accepts that broken bones are a regular occurrence for her family but sometimes wishes she could bubble wrap her kids to prevent them from pain.

However, like her mum Jenny, she never wants her children to feel they are missing out on anything.

“It just is our life,” she says.

“Aiden has been in a cast more than he hasn’t, he is one of the strongest kids I know.”


The most important message Amanda wants to share is education and awareness of the disorder.

The community supports each other and lends wheelchairs, crutches and slings to one another when another inevitable break happens.

“If you have a child with a broken arm, sometimes you can put a splint on it,” she says.

“If that child has OI you can’t move the injury, you will most likely cause further damage.”


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