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Kiera's Successful Surgery Sends Her Leaping Back to Ballet

Kiera was first introduced to the world of dance when she was 2 years old, and since then, she has been enchanted by the eight count rhythm that propels her body into motion. Proving to be more than just a hobby, this creative outlet has given Kiera the ability to express herself freely, and fostered the development of long-term friendships with other dancer friends over the past several years.

When Kiera turned 11, she began to experience back pain. While her pain wasn’t necessarily severe, it was adequate enough to warrant a trip to her primary care provider. Once her physician noticed not one, but two curves in Kiera’s spine, she was immediately referred to the Portland Shriners Hospital for care.

At the Portland Shriners Hospital, Kiera was seen by pediatric orthopaedic physician Daniel Bouton, M.D. Dr. Bouton wanted to take quick action to prevent any additional curvature and recommended surgery: a posterior fusion to correct the abnormality in Kiera’s spine. Kiera and her mother were pleased with the recommendation for rapid treatment as they wanted to ensure the best possible outcome, and at that point the curves in her spine had already progressed since the initial diagnosis by her primary care provider.

“Dr. Bouton has been super-wonderful through this process and very open about the different treatments and surgeries,” said Krista, Kiera’s mother. “We were expecting Kiera to need surgery, but we just weren’t sure how soon she needed it.”

Post-surgery, Kiera and her family stayed at the Portland Shriners Hospital to recuperate. During her stay at the hospital, Kiera enjoyed the pet therapy dogs that came to visit her in the inpatient unit. She was also excited to find another patient with scoliosis who had had surgery the same day. The two girls instantly bonded, and this newfound friendship motivated Kiera to make the goal of walking down to her friend’s room every day.

After a brief three-month recovery, Kiera was able to slowly begin to return to some of the less strenuous aspects of her dance classes. Kiera’s back continued to improve, and six months post-surgery she was able to make a complete return to ballet unrestricted. Kiera added positively, “It was exciting and felt good to be back to dancing without any restrictions.”

“I was Level 6 when I had surgery,” said Kiera, now 12 years old, speaking of her successful return to her dance studio. “I am now Level 6 and doing some Level-7 classes three days a week. I also do Level 3 contemporary dance classes once a week with the Level-7 girls.” This is an impressive achievement considering Level 7 is the highest level attainable at her ballet studio. Her talents have led her to be cast in several ballet ensembles including Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.

“I wasn’t scared at all when I was told I had scoliosis, but other kids might be,” said Kiera, who hopes her story might inspire other patients in similar situations. “It’s OK to be scared and it helps to talk about it with friends and family.”

Kiera in dance class

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