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Kyera does not allow scoliosis to get in the way of her dream

Patient participates in NoLimits Sports Softball Camp while brother helps lead the baseball camp

Kyera does not allow scoliosis to get in the way of her dream

On Saturday, September 16, patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center — Lexington, and Kentucky Children’s Hospital (children’s hospital located within UK HealthCare) received a priceless opportunity presented by UK Athletics. Patients were invited to attend a sports camp with the University of Kentucky baseball and softball teams where they learned the game from college athletes, coaches and the University of Kentucky Athletics’ strength and conditioning and nutrition teams. Plus they were able to take part in their very own game (patients and players vs. coaches and doctors)...patients won! The goal of the camp was to learn from college athletes of the University of Kentucky’s baseball and softball teams that there are #NoLimits to their athletic ability, regardless of physical limitations.

Kyera, 10-year-old patient of Lexington Shriners Medical Center, from Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, attended the #NoLimits Sports Softball Camp. Kyera is currently being treated by Lexington Shriners Medical Center and pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, Ryan Muchow for scoliosis. She has been diagnosed with a 33-degree curve to her spine meaning that her spine has a sideways curvature that measures at a 33-degree angle.

Most often scoliosis is discovered during a child’s growth spurt just before puberty. Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some children develop spine deformities that continue to get more severe as they grow. Severe scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.

Children who have mild scoliosis are monitored closely, usually with X-rays, to see if the curve is getting worse. Some children will need to wear a brace to stop the curve from worsening. The most common type of brace worn for scoliosis is called a thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO) and is made of plastic and is contoured to conform to the body. This close-fitting brace is almost invisible under clothes, as it fits under the arms and around the rib cage, lower back and hips. Wearing a brace will not cure scoliosis or reverse the curve, but it usually prevents further progression of the curve if worn for the specific amount of time daily prescribed by a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon. The amount of time will vary in each patient depending upon degree of curve, physical activity and age.

Kyera was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2015 at a yearly check-up with her pediatrician and was being monitored until the degree of her curve changed. Her mother, Davina, spoke with several coworkers and friends for recommendations of a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon. After hearing from multiple people about the excellent care their children received from Lexington Shriners Medical Center she made an appointment for Kyera.

Dr. Muchow confirmed the diagnosis of scoliosis in Kyera through X-rays and a physical examination. She was told that her curvature measured at 26 degrees and that she would need to wear a TLSO for 18 hours each day. This instruction by Dr. Muchow allows Kyera to take her brace off for 6 hours a day so that she can participate in softball practice and PE class at school.

“The hardest is during softball tournaments when she may play 2-3 games in a day. She does really well with keeping track of time and putting the brace back on in between games,” said Davina, when describing her daughter’s attentiveness to compiling with the TLSO time restriction. “She does not even complain about how hot it gets. Sometimes when she takes the brace off her little tank top is dripping in sweat. She does not want surgery and her goal is to play college softball someday so she is determined to stay on track in order to achieve her goal.”

Late one night while on Instagram, Davina saw a post by Lexington Shriners Medical Center announcing registration was open for the NoLimits Sports Camp. The NoLimits Sports Camp was divided by gender with boys attending baseball and girls attending softball. Davina called the number listed for registrations immediately and left a message asking for a representative to return her call in order to sign Kyera up. “I was excited to see our two favorite organizations [Shriners Hospitals for Children and the University of Kentucky Baseball/Softball] pairing up and knew Kyera would love it,” said Davina.

One of the reasons Davina and Kyera love the University of Kentucky baseball and softball team so much is that they have a personal connection to the baseball team. Davina’s son and Kyera’s brother, Brayden plays first base for the University of Kentucky Baseball team. As a baseball player for the University of Kentucky, Brayden would help lead the baseball camp for the male patients attending.

“I knew about Shriners Hospitals for Children because of my little sister Kyera. I have witnessed firsthand how their services have greatly impacted my family. When I was told by Coach Mingione [head coach for UK baseball] that our team would be participating in the camp I was excited to interact and see how Shriners Hospitals for Children has impacted other families as well,” said Brayden. “It is amazing how many families have been impacted by the services of Shriners Hospitals for Children and I am extremely appreciative of everything they have done for my family and others.”

The baseball and softball camp allowed the patients to participate in drills such as hitting, catching, fielding and running while learning all about the great American pastime with Kentucky players. Each college athlete teamed up with one patient and spent the entire two hours of the camp giving the patients tips and getting to know them personally. The players wanted to instill in the patients that none of them have problems, but rather to look at their limitations as a challenge that they can overcome. Each player took time to remind the patients that if they change the way they think about their limitation they can achieve anything. Playing sports and staying active is something that all pediatric orthopaedic surgeons and physicians at Lexington Shriners Medical Center encourage and the players of the Kentucky baseball and softball team were a great tool to reiterate this importance. They were able to show the patients that playing sports is a great way to build lifelong relationships and to be around other children facing similar challenges so that they do not feel alone as they work to overcome anything they have set their minds to.

“Seeing the smiles on the patients’ faces made all of us on the Kentucky baseball team feel really lucky to experience this opportunity. Also, being able to speak with the parents and to see (and hear) how happy they were watching their children really hit home. As a team, we put a huge emphasis on family, and for us to be able to impact a family’s life for even a couple of hours is something that none of us will ever forget,” said Brayden.

While Kyera attended the softball camp and did not actually experience the camp alongside her brother, Brayden, it still meant a lot to her knowing that her brother was helping other patients like herself. “Everyone was super nice at the softball camp. My favorite part was when I saw the kids’ faces light up when they got a hit. They were so happy and it was so cool to experience,” said Kyera.

As Davina talked about the care her daughter has received from Dr. Muchow and Shriners Medical Center, she mentioned how worried and concerned she was prior to arriving. However, as soon as she entered the medical center’s doors she was put at ease with how honest the medical staff was with not only her, but Kyera. Davina said that she loves the fact from the very first appointment, Dr. Muchow spoke directly to Kyera and includes her in all discussions. In addition, he got to know Kyera and always talks to her about softball.

“My advice for another girl going through the same thing would be to never give up and keeping fighting,” said Kyera. “I know some girls have it way worse than me and they have to fight every day. Sometimes my back hurts so bad I cry, and sometimes it doesn’t hurt at all and I forget about it. Either way I keep fighting.”

This story does not stop here. Kyera continues to receive care for her scoliosis, Brayden and the UK baseball and softball teams have begun their fall 2017 seasons and the UK baseball team has signed up to play in the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Houston Classic. The college classic baseball tournament is held in Houston, Texas at Minute Maid Park hosted by the Astros Foundation. This event is a wonderful platform for Shriners Hospitals for Children to continue to raise funds and generate awareness for our world-renowned specialty care. A portion of the proceeds from this event directly benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children and allows our health care system to continue its mission of giving hope and healing to children and families every day.

Since opening the new Shriners Medical Center on the UK HealthCare campus in April 2017, the partnership with UK Athletics and Kentucky Children’s Hospital has been outstanding. The Kentucky baseball team playing in the Houston Classic could not come at a better time and Lexington Shriners Medical Center looks forward to continuing to develop a partnership with UK Athletics and all the athletic teams of the University of Kentucky.

“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to play for such a special cause. We now have a true feeling of what we are playing for due to hosting the recent sports camp,” said Brayden. “Playing in this tournament is something the team will cherish for a long time, knowing that we were able to help all the wonderful children and their families.”

Kyera collage

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