When Vivian was 12 years old, she was at the pediatrician for a routine checkup when her doctor noticed there was an issue with her spine. She was referred to a spine specialist who, after reviewing an X-ray of her spine, diagnosed her with scoliosis.
Since Vivian's scoliosis was considered mild, her doctor suggested they wait and see how her spine developed as she continued to grow. After some time passed, however, her mother, Janée, wanted to seek another opinion.
"Vivian was growing really fast during this time period, and I felt like we needed to be doing more," Janée says.
Vivian and her family find expert scoliosis care at Children's Health℠
Janée began researching local pediatric scoliosis experts and discovered Scott Sorenson, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Children's Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. Vivian's first appointment with Dr. Sorenson was in August 2019, and from the very beginning, Janée felt confident that her daughter was in good hands.
"Dr. Sorenson addressed all of our questions and listened to each of my concerns," Janée says. "At this point, Vivian's scoliosis had crossed over from mild to moderate, and although she was still very active, we were concerned that she might have long-term effects as she got older."
An MRI confirmed that Vivian's spinal cord was not the cause of her scoliosis, but Dr. Sorenson, along with Vivian and her family, agreed it was time to take a more proactive approach.
"Vivian's scoliosis had progressed to 30 degrees in the thoracic and lumbar spine while she was still growing," explains Dr. Sorenson. "After thoroughly discussing treatment options, Vivian, her mother and I decided that a brace and Schroth exercises would be the best treatment for her. At this curve magnitude a brace is critical, and Schroth exercises that are personalized to each individual patient's specific curve location and size are very helpful."
Vivian was fitted for a specialized back brace, which she wears for several hours a day, to prevent the lower curve in her back from progressing as her body continues to grow.
To complement her bracing treatments, Vivian began working with Mary Hegarty, MPT, Physical Therapist at the Children's Health Andrew's Institute Spine Center. Hegarty specializes in the Schroth method, a specialized physical therapy regimen to help improve spine alignment in patients with scoliosis.
After closely evaluating the shape and curve in Vivian's spine using 3D X-rays, Mary focused on specialized breathing, stretching and strengthening exercises to improve Vivian's spinal posture and alignment over the course of several sessions. Vivian, who is athletic, picked up the Schroth exercises quickly and was able to easily implement them at home as well.
"It has been such a pleasure to work with Vivian and her mother, Janée," Mary says. "We discussed her specific curve type and how to implement spinal postural corrections in different postures and positions along with the specialized breathing technique that is required. Vivian has been consistent and diligent in her home scoliosis exercise program, fitting it all into her busy schedule, and is a wonderful example of how to take ownership of her care."
"It helps that Vivian enjoys physical activity because the exercise doesn't feel foreign to her," Janée adds. "Still, it focuses a lot on fine tuning the muscles, and I don't think people really appreciate how much all of those minor adjustments add up to be effective."
Fortunately, Vivian's scoliosis does not cause her pain, and she plans to continue her athletic pursuits when the school year starts again. Dr. Sorenson will continue to closely monitor Vivian's progress over the coming years and, in partnership with her and family, make adjustments to her treatment plan as needed.
"With both Dr. Sorenson and Mary, they have treated us like we are a team in Vivian's care," Janée says. "It is a cooperative effort where I truly believe they want the best for my child."
Learn more about scoliosis treatment
The highly trained pediatric spine specialists at the Children's Health Andrews Institute Spine Center use advanced treatment technology and techniques to treat all children with spinal irregularities and scoliosis. Learn more about our spine and scoliosis treatment program.
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