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news News Wednesday, July 17, 2019 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 9:26 AM - Wednesday, July 17, 2019 9:26 AM

Swim cap in one hand, back brace in the other

Swim cap in one hand, back brace in the other

With a swim cap in one hand and a brace in the other, Katie is determined to not let her diagnosis stand in her way.

Shortly after turning 10 years old, Katie was at swim practice when her coach noticed her back seemed raised on one side.  After a visit to her pediatrician, she was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

A teammate on Katie’s swim team was a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville. She recommended the hospital, saying she felt it was not only the best care in the area, but also in the United States.

Katie was given a 98% chance of needing surgery. "I remember the doctors saying, ‘When it comes time for surgery’ rather than ‘if’,” said Mary Beth, Katie’s mom.

Katie’s goal was to do anything in her power to avoid surgery. To help prevent her curve from increasing, a brace was the best option. Katie’s doctor advised her to wear her brace for 22 hours a day. Determined not to let her scoliosis take away from her goals, like swimming, she was highly compliant.

Katie has worn four braces throughout her time as a patient. “My orthotist worked really hard with me to make sure my brace fit comfortably and hit the right spots,” Katie said. As years went by, Katie continued to avoid surgery. With each X-ray and appointment, Katie’s spine showed improvement.

“Shriners [Hospitals] means everything to me and my family,” said Katie. “They have helped me avoid major spine surgery.” Thanks to the excellent care Katie received, she is able to continue swimming and live the life she always imagined. She is an accomplished swimmer, competing for her high school. She is also a member of a USA Swimming Club Team, for which she competes year round.

“I feel I have gained more from my experience here than was taken away from me by having scoliosis,” Katie said. “Not just health wise, but as a person.”

Mary Beth said she wants others to be a part of the Shriners [Hospital] family so that they too can benefit from the excellent, stress-free care, thanks to donations that allow families to receive the treatment needed, regardless of ability to pay. “I never felt like a patient here,” Katie said. “I’ve felt more like a member of a big family – a family who only wants the best for me and will do everything they can to make it happen.”

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