My name is Amanda, and I am 21 years old. I was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis at age 11. My scoliosis was S shaped. My upper right thoracic curve was 25 degrees and lumbar 17 degrees. Originally my scoliosis at these measurements did not affect my life, I was pain free, and very active. I was still able to participate in sports such as volleyball, softball, and cheerleading. Unfortunately, at age 13 my curve quickly progressed to over 48 degrees even though I wore the Boston brace.
At that point my mom and orthopedic doctor had conversations about surgery since my curve and pain were severe. The thought of surgery frightened my mom, so she began doing some research on the internet and came across a specialized physical therapy for scoliosis, called the Schroth Method. Luckily there was an office nearby that offered it and my mom made an appointment. There I met wonderful physical therapists who guided me in correctional breathing exercises. After two years of doing these daily exercises, my upper curve decreased to 32 degrees and my lumbar relatively stayed the same. I was looking more aligned and experienced less pain. This practice also introduced me to the Rigo Cheneau Scoliosis Brace that I wore for a year until I was skeletally mature. These physical therapists were my emotional support system during this most difficult time in my life and uplifted my spirits.
Dealing with scoliosis as an adolescent was depressing. I was embarrassed of my body and wore baggy clothes to hide my uneven posture and bulging brace. At 21 years of age, I still perform my Schroth exercises to manage my pain. Unfortunately, my right thoracic curve has recently progressed to over 50 degrees and my lower curve decreased to 11 degrees. It is believed I had a late growth spurt in combination with me being less active in college. The Schroth Method is no longer decreasing my severe pain the way it used to. Now I am searching for adult spinal fusion surgeons so that I can feel better about my body and get back to doing the things I love with less pain. Having scoliosis is what inspired me to pursue physical therapy as a future career. I want to help others improve their quality of life when dealing with scoliosis and other medical conditions. Over the years I have seen how physical therapists make a difference in the lives of others suffering from pain and I want to be a part of that difference.
Overall having scoliosis has allowed me to grow a lot as a person. I used to have low self-esteem and be embarrassed to talk about having scoliosis but now I enjoy raising awareness and sharing my story with others. Last year I volunteered as a scoliosis patient model for Rutgers University Physical therapy students. This gave me a platform to educate PT students about the Schroth Method as well as inform them how scoliosis personally affects me and how it can affect others differently. By having a platform to share my story it allows me to feel more connected to other patients and not feel alone in the world. All scoliosis patients are strong both mentally and physically and our stories are what shapes us into the beautiful individuals we are today.