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From Bolivia to Philadelphia: Joissy’s Scoliosis Story

Finding a pediatric healthcare provider is simple, yet complex.

Today, many parents will crowdsource and select a doctor based on a recommendation from word of mouth, social media channels, friends and family, insurance companies and the internet. And that’s just what Joissy’s parents did, as they knew they would not be able to receive the same level of quality care near their home in Bolivia, South America. After their research, they knew Shriners Children’s was the best place to go in order for Joissy to receive scoliosis care from leaders in the field.

Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve in a C shape or S shape, rather than growing in a straight line. When they first arrived at Shriners Children’s Philadelphia, Joissy was seen by Josh Pahys, M.D., pediatric orthopedic surgeon, to review and discuss best treatment options.

There are multiple treatment options for scoliosis, including bracing, Mehta casting and halo traction, to name a few. For Joissy, it was determined that halo traction was the best option to straighten her spine properly.

Halo traction uses a pulley system to gently stretch and straighten a child’s spine. While all cases vary, patients can remain in halo traction for anywhere from three to eight weeks. After her time in halo traction, she received spinal fusion surgery to permanently stabilize her spine.

“Joissy is a very strong young lady who recovered faster and better than I could have imagined. She always had a smile on her face and brightened everyone’s day!”
Josh Pahys, M.D.

Staff members at Shriners Children’s are aware of the overall health and well-being of our patients. While Joissy originally came for her spine, she was also seen by other members of the medical team, including Scott Kozin, M.D., and Terrance Ishmael, M.D.

“I came for my spine, but Dr. Pahys saw me as a whole,” said Joissy.

Scott Kozin, M.D., chief of staff, met with Joissy and her parents to evaluate the use of her hands. It was determined that he would perform tendon transfer surgery on her hand. This surgery allows her to extend her wrists to enable further use of her hands in daily activities. Joissy is so pleased that she had this procedure, because now she has more range of motion.

While Joissy was at Shriners Children's, she enjoyed the activities that the recreational therapists provided, including holiday parties, art therapy and music therapy. She even took part in a special initiative to install new members of the Board of Governors at Shriners International.

Joissy and her parents are incredibly grateful for the love and care they received during their time in Philadelphia. “Everyone here is looking for the same hope of getting better. I will miss the hospital so much because everyone is so sweet,” said Joissy.

Although she is going back to her hometown, Joissy and her family will make trips, as needed, back to Shriners Children’s.

Meet Joissy

During her stay in Philadelphia, she felt right at home with her nurses, medical team and staff. Here is a glimpse of her stay. 

patient in wheelchair placing fez on a Shriner

Joissy places a fez on the new Chairman of the Board of Governors, Christopher E. Ritchey.

patient in halo brace with provider

Joissy and Dr. Pahys smiling before her surgery

patient with occupational therapist

Joissy and her occupational therapist, Sarah, work together to strengthen her fine motor skills.

patient smiling in wheelchair

Joissy smiles after Rob, seating and wheelchair specialist, customized her powerchair for use.

Next Steps

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