X-Factor contestant and top 12 finalist Rion Paige was an instant hit with the judges during her first round on the show’s season 3 premiere, belting out a beautiful rendition of Carrie Underwood’s country hit “Blown Away.” The 13-year-old’s performance was impressive, but not as impressive as the story behind her journey to the X-Factor show; Rion Paige is not only mostly blind in her right eye, she also has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita.
Known by the initials AMC, arthrogryposis multiplex congenita is a disorder present in newborns which is characterized by abnormal muscle development and reduced flexibility of the joints. The American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine indicates AMC symptoms vary significantly from person to person, but are primarily seen as a lack of movement in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, and feet. For Rion Paige, the condition has severely affected her hands.
AMC is also one of the reasons the young woman has become so passionate about music.
“Sometimes, I just get really frustrated whenever I can’t accomplish something that I think I could,” explained Rion on the X-Factor. “So music helps me to be able to explain my feelings.”
The exact causes behind AMC are not fully understood by experts, according to the National Institutes of Health, but a number of factors are thought to impact the condition, including genetic predisposition, decreased movement or limited space in utero, connective tissue disorders, hypothermia while in the womb, and maternal illness.
In addition to the movement restrictions related to developmental factors, Rion Paige and other individuals with AMC typically have an excess of tissue around the joints which limits range of motion.
Of the causes behind AMC, genetics is thought to be a factor in only an approximate 30 percent of cases, and it is estimated approximately 1 in 10,000 people are affected by AMC worldwide.
While there is no cure for AMC, individuals like X-Factor contestant Rion Paige have the option to seek surgical intervention to correct physical deformities. For many, physical therapy can help improve joint flexibility and muscle strength, especially when started in infancy. Physical therapy, combined with occupational therapy, can teach children how to grasp fine motor skills to help them later in life.
Her voice and her perseverance despite physical obstacles certainly helped Rion Paige make an impression with X-Factor judges.
“Rion, I’m just so impressed with you right now and I cannot believe the struggles you have had and how positive you are,” judge Demi Lovato said after a standing ovation from the judges. “I think everybody in this room can learn something from you today.”