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news News Thursday, June 20, 2019 Thursday, June 20, 2019 5:43 PM - Thursday, June 20, 2019 5:43 PM

Not defined by her curve

Lily's scoliosis journey

Not defined by her curve

Lily was at her annual check-up when her pediatrician noticed a slight curve in her back. Lily’s pediatrician suggested that she and her mom, Robyn, keep an eye on it, and come back for a check-up in six months. Just five months later she returned for a visit and her pediatrician was shocked at the progression of Lily’s curve. Lily was booked for an immediate X-ray, where her pediatrician’s concerns were confirmed. She was immediately referred to the Portland Shriners Hospital.

Lily became a patient of Michelle Welborn, M.D., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at the Portland Shriners Hospital who specializes in spinal deformities. Lily was diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, with her upper and lower curves at 47 degrees. She was initially scared by her diagnosis, not knowing exactly what was in store for her, but she was relieved to have Dr. Welborn as a guide as she learned more about her treatment options. “Dr. Welborn is crazy-knowledgeable, upbeat and respectful, and always takes her time explaining every single thing, as well as answering every question we ever had,” said Lily.

Lily underwent scoliosis treatment at the Portland Shriners Hospital and began wearing a customized back brace made by the hospital's orthotics and prosthetics team. Lily wore her back brace for 20 hours a day for a full year in order to help stop her rapidly progressing curve. After wearing her brace, she underwent a spinal fusion surgery conducted by Dr. Welborn to correct the curvature in her upper spine.

Now eight months post-operation, Lily is back to doing all the things she loved to do before her scoliosis diagnosis. Lily stays busy with horseback riding, swimming, hiking, camping and spending time with her animals. She is currently a patient ambassador for the Portland Shriners Hospital, where she shares her experience regarding the hospital and her treatment with other children with scoliosis. Lily aims to encourage fellow patients to “never let your curve define who you are.” Although wearing her brace for 20 hours a day for a full year became tedious, Lily is working on ways to turn her old brace into something she can still enjoy today, like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake item. “Even though my journey with scoliosis has been tough, I want a piece of it to remind me how strong I am, and how far I’ve come,” said Lily.