Surgeon says uptick in scoliosis surgeries likely linked to elimination of school funding

Teen softball player making amazing comeback from scoliosis surgery
Reagan Herndon has designs on playing softball in college, an impressive feat just two years after scoliosis surgery.
Reagan Herndon has designs on playing softball in college, an impressive feat just two years after scoliosis surgery.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Since May, there have been about 40 scoliosis surgeries scheduled at Norton Leatherman Spine Center.

A surgeon there said that number only represents a small percentage of people with the condition.

Dr. John Dimar said there are several reasons for the uptick. One of them is that schools no longer screen for scoliosis since federal funding was cut several years ago. Dimar said some patients' conditions are caught in later stages, and surgery is the only solution.

A family from PRP said their daughter's scoliosis surgery was overwhelming, but she has grown physically and mentally since.

"She actually grew two inches after (she) had her surgery," Jenni Herndon said about her daughter.

Reagan plays on a traveling softball team and has college softball on her radar. From her athleticism, you could never tell Reagan has 18 screws and two rods in her back.

"It was definitely scary, and I thought I was going to be out of sports for a while," she said.

Reagan had scoliosis surgery two years ago after being diagnosed with the condition in pre-school. Her parents said her scoliosis is a cautionary tale.

"It can cripple your child if you don't know soon enough," Jenni Herndon said.

"It's so critical to identify scoliosis early in children because the sooner we treat the curve the better the treatment results," Dimar said.

Dimar said scoliosis surgeries in Louisville are on the rise.

"This is a deformity that doesn't really cause any pain so people don't look for it," Dimar said.

Dimar said early screenings can result in less invasive treatments, like a brace.

"Kids eventually began to understand the brace, after I explained it every day," Reagan said.

Reagan wore a brace, but her case of scoliosis was so severe that surgery was the only option.

"That was five hours of my kid being put under and knowing she was having all this hardware put into her back," Jenni said.

Jenni Herndon said if an extra trip to the doctor can avoid surgery it's worth it. It took Reagan six months to recover, and her parents couldn't be prouder.

"It's crazy to see where I am now versus where I could still be at," Reagan said.

Dimar said if you are getting your children checked out before they head back to school, it's a perfect time to screen for scoliosis.

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