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news News Thursday, December 26, 2019 Thursday, December 26, 2019 2:47 PM - Thursday, December 26, 2019 2:47 PM

From spine surgery to competitive horseback riding

From spine surgery to competitive horseback riding

Gaige was 7 when she was diagnosed with juvenile onset idiopathic scoliosis, and her family was told that her doctor would watch how the curve progressed. When Gaige was 10, however, she began to feel an increased amount of pain and her pediatrician recommended physical therapy or an orthotic brace. Gaige’s parents felt unsure about the recommendation and wanted to explore other options for her care. Gaige’s mother, Janine, had a client who recommended Shriners Hospitals for Children — Portland, based on her own positive experience.

Gaige, a competitive horseback rider, met with Michelle Welborn, M.D., who confirmed the 53 degree curve in Gaige’s spine and recommended immediate surgery. “I loved Dr. Welborn,” said Gaige. “She’s a straight-to-the-point kind of person, and that’s exactly how I am!” Gaige spent one week recovering from the posterior spinal fusion surgery at the Portland Shriners Hospital and had her sights set on recovering as quickly as possible in order to return to her favorite sport.

Dr. Welborn was impressed with Gaige. “After surgery, Gaige bounced back like nothing happened,” said Dr. Welborn. “She was fearless and courageous, and I can see that she approaches everything in her life that way, not just the medical care she received. That girl is all heart!” After surgery, Dr. Welborn reported an excellent correction of the curvature in Gaige’s spine.

Now, Gaige is able to continue her favorite sport! This past summer, Gaige and her horse, Secret, competed in the Canadian Nationals, where she won the National Champion title and two Reserve Champions. “This is unheard of!” said Janine.

“I have so many favorite things about horseback riding,” said Gaige. “I couldn’t just pick one!"

Gaige on horse at speed