A young woman who was treated for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis at the Honolulu Shriners Hospital is sharing her story. Iolani School graduate, Ayumi Sakamoto, 19, was diagnosed with a 34 degree curvature of her spine when she was 14.
“I was pretty shocked. I didn’t realize that I had this condition and it went unnoticed for so long,” said Sakamoto.
Ayumi has played competitive golf since she was 7 years old and made the difficult decision to not play during her 8th grade year so she could wear a brace 23 hours per day.
Pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, Paul Moroz, M.D., says while doctors don’t know what causes adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, girls have a greater likelihood to develop the orthopaedic condition. Dr. Moroz credits Ayumi for getting treatment. Treatment for scoliosis includes observation, bracing or surgery. “If she hadn’t received treatment, there’s a good chance her curve would have gotten bigger and bigger and it might have gotten to the point where she could have required an operative procedure.” Dr. Moroz says a brace doesn’t reverse the curve, but stops it from getting worse while the child is growing.
Ayumi says it was tough not playing golf with her peers for a year, but she’s glad she did it. During her treatment, she took yoga classes at the hospital. The classes helped keep her limber and strong, but they also supported her emotionally. “Shriners doesn’t even feel like a hospital. It feels like a supportive family,” she said. “My surgeons don’t treat me like a patient. They treat me like a person and went above and beyond at little to no cost.”
Ayumi plays competitive golf at Carlton College in Minnesota and founded a support group to help other Shriners Hospital patients dealing with scoliosis. She tells others that she leads a comfortable lifestyle thanks to Shriners Hospital.