Slopes and Waves: Natalie's Journey to Overcoming Scoliosis - Nemours Blog


Slopes and Waves: Natalie’s Journey to Overcoming Scoliosis

Natalie had always been an active teenager with a love for surfing, skiing, and running. She would often spend her weekends hitting the slopes or catching waves at the beach with her friends. Determined, Natalie worked hard to become the best athlete she could to achieve her goals.

However, during a routine check-up at her pediatrician’s office, Natalie received some unexpected news. She had adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, a condition that causes the spine to curve. Her pediatrician referred her to Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware to meet with Dr. Suken Shah, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

Despite the busy nature of the hospital, Natalie was treated with kindness, patience, and respect. Dr. Shah took the time to talk with her and understand her as a person, not just a patient with a medical condition. He mapped out a care plan for her scoliosis to get her back to her active lifestyle.

At age 12, Natalie underwent a posterior spinal fusion to correct her spine. The surgery was successful, and Natalie returned to her favorite activities after a recovery period.

When asked about her experience, Natalie said, “I feel good. I don’t know what it would have been like if I didn’t have the surgery, but I know that the result of the surgery is better than I imagined. My back doesn’t prohibit me from doing anything.”

Severe scoliosis, if left untreated, especially in a growing child can get worse, become harder to treat and can cause a lifetime of disability.

Natalie continued to pursue her passions for surfing, skiing, and running. She worked hard to become a stronger athlete and to make a few varsity teams at her school. Despite the challenges she faced, she remained positive and grateful for the opportunity to continue doing what she loved.

“Knowing my back could have prohibited me from doing all the physical activity I do now is a constant reminder to be grateful I had the surgery when I did,” said Natalie. “I feel confident in my ability to progress because I am physically and mentally prepared.”

Natalie’s journey taught her the importance of perseverance and gratitude. She never let her condition define or hold her back from her dreams. With the help of Dr. Shah and Nemours Children’s, Natalie overcame her scoliosis and continues to live her best life.

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