Emily in front of the Dallas campus

Feb 11, 2021 / Scoliosis & Spine

Share Your Story: Amazing Discoveries

Meet Emily - a patient who was seen by our spine experts. Learn more about her journey below.

Blog written by Emily, of Midland, TX. 

The outstanding professionals at Scottish Rite for Children provided a diagnosis of severe early onset scoliosis for me around the age of 1. Despite my rare case, Dr. Rathjen approached my curve as aggressively as possible, and his team had developed a treatment plan that took urgent concerns, such as respiratory system underdevelopment, into consideration. With a curve already over 100 degrees, the decision was made to begin halo traction as soon as possible. Halo traction provided an increase of stretching and straightening of my spine, in preparation for insertion of the growing rod implant system.

At the age of 4, Dr. Rathjen placed a very tiny set of growing rods in my spine. As I grew, these were adjusted every three to four months. When I was 9, Dr. Rathjen and my family agreed that it was time to begin preparing for spinal fusion and permanent rod placement. This decision was made based on factors such as outgrowing the set of growing rods I had, as well as being too small for the next size up. My growing rods were removed, and I was placed into halo traction once again for the six months prior to my spinal fusion surgery. A month after I turned 10, Dr. Rathjen, along with Dr. Sucato, performed spinal fusion surgery and placed a permanent rod system in my spine. A year following my operation, Dr. Rathjen assured me that my rod placement and fusion was successful and released me for all physical activity. 

Early on during my treatment, my family was approached by the Research department about participating in various research studies. Once I found an opportunity to participate in something that could potentially give a tiny bit of something back to Scottish Rite, I took it without hesitation. Participating in research also gave me a sense of being part of a community. Through this process, we were also able to find a cause for my scoliosis. Dr. Wise, who has made amazing discoveries, was kind enough to explain the science behind my genetic disorder in a very personal way. I encourage all patients to participate in research. Every patient’s treatment can be analyzed, studied and learned from. Your willingness to participate in research will directly help children’s treatment in the future.

As a teenager, I enjoyed spending time outdoors with my family. Some of my favorite memories with my family are those of hiking, fishing, horseback riding and boating. During junior high and high school, I joined the golf team and even though my ball may or may not have spent most of its time in the lake or stuck in trees, I loved it! I graduated high school in 2019 and I now attend Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and am working towards my bachelors in speech, language and hearing sciences. I am so blessed to have been chosen to be a part of the Legacy Scholarship Program at Scottish Rite. I could not ask for a better group of people to not only have by my side during my treatment, but now as I transition into adulthood. 

I will be graduating in May of 2022 and in the fall, I will begin applying to graduate schools to pursue a masters in speech language pathology. This is such a broad field and I have so much to learn. Currently, I am hoping to work with pediatric clients in either a hospital or clinical setting. I have always found an interest in medicine, which my parents say stems from growing up around doctors, but I love language, reading and writing as well. I think I will love conjoining these two aspects of my life, and I am excited to continue learning and considering what I want my career to look like. Although I was never in speech therapy, I hope to use my experiences at Scottish Rite to be the best clinician I can be. I cannot begin to express how much I valued my relationships with my surgeons, nurses, therapists and so many more. My desire to be at least half the person they were to me, will forever fuel my fire. I am so incredibly thankful for the support that I receive from Scottish Rite, and I hope to always stay in contact with those who gave me my childhood.



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