Scoliosis treatment restores young girl’s mental and physical health

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Haylie came to Shriners Hospitals for Children—Northern California for scoliosis care after initial treatment with a spinal doctor through a local integrated healthcare system. Haylie was in physical pain, out of school and struggling with depression. Doctors told her she would never dance or participate in physically demanding activities again. She was crushed. Dance was her passion.

Haylie’s mother Christina refused to accept her daughter’s ongoing agony and began a search for more solutions. She found the Northern California Shriners Hospital through a Facebook group – Mothers and Children with Scoliosis. One mother’s testimonial inspired Christina to reach out and get the self-referral process started. Once Hailey began her treatment at the Northern California Shriners Hospital, her life improved drastically.

“She came to Shriners [Hospital] and the doctors had all the confidence in the world in her,” said Christina. “They told her that with proper care she would be able to do anything she wanted.”

The first priority for orthopaedic spine surgeon Eric O. Klineberg, M.D., and the entire orthopaedic team was to work with the Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services department to create Haylie a brace with proper padding that provided her skin cushioning. The goal of bracing is to improve and prevent the worsening of a child’s curve, without surgery.

“I noticed a major difference between the braces given to me by my other doctor and the ones at Shriners [Hospital],” said Haylie. “The ones given to me before left me black and blue and at Shriners [Hospital], they had more padding, and I was really excited because the comfort improved tremendously.”

Christina and Haylie said Dr. Klineberg and the entire staff always went out of their way to make sure she was comfortable and made each visit personal by asking about her extracurricular interests. Christina remembered a specific time a scheduler went as far as making a last-minute change to ensure a visit with her favorite orthotist, even though her appointment was originally with another staff member. Even the hospital environment played a role in her feeling comfortable and less embarrassed about having scoliosis.

“The hospital feels like home to me,” said Haylie. “People don’t look at me differently at Shriners [Hospital]. I love being around other kids who are overcoming obstacles in life like me.”

Her confidence and spirits were improving by the time she was in her second brace made at the Northern California Shriners Hospital – a bright rainbow-colored brace. Haylie remembers this brace most because it was the first one she ever wore out in public.

Over time, the bracing improved her curve. The Northern California Shriners Hospital had provided the care necessary to change the narrative for Haylie. What was once impossible was suddenly possible for her. 

“Getting told that I could finally take my brace off was unbelievable and I just started crying,” said Haylie near the end of her care journey. “And I asked, ‘can I dance again?’ Then the doctor said ‘absolutely.’ It was the best day of my life.”

Haylie is back to full-time competitive dance with Sacramento Showbiz Productions, a dance company she has been practicing with for two years now and is an honors English student.

“To the staff, thank you so much for being so kind and caring and thoughtful, and really taking care of my daughter the way I would want to care of her,” said Christina. “They take care of your children the way you would.”  

With restored health, both mentally and physically, Hailey plans to give back by showing other children that dreams are still possible for people with disabilities. She wants to empower other kids and often answers emails and phone calls to provide hope and direction.

“Go straight to Shriners [Hospital] if you have scoliosis,” said Haylie. “Trust me, you won’t regret it!”