Teen athlete returns to sports, active lifestyle after scoliosis, spinal fusion surgery

Kira Scrogham loves running track and cross- country, and a spinal fusion surgery to correct her scoliosis hasn’t slowed down this 16-year-old.

Kira Scrogham loves running track and cross-country, and a spinal fusion surgery to correct her scoliosis hasn’t slowed down this 16-year-old.

Kira has always loved being involved in sports, but in sixth grade, a scoliosis screening put into question her future as an athlete.

“She did a sports physical, and they found a curve,” said Kira’s mom, Amy. “They watched it for a few months, and it started to curve more. She wore a back brace for a year, and that still didn’t work.”

Although Kira wasn’t in any pain, her spinal curve continued to get more severe as she kept growing.

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“We tried physical therapy for six months with the back brace, but by eighth grade, Kira’s spine started to majorly curve, and everything we were trying wasn’t working,” Amy said. “We exhausted all of our options and agreed that she needed to have surgery before it got any worse or wouldn’t be able to be fixed.”

Kira had posterior spinal fusion (PSF) surgery in 2019, which was performed by Kent L. Walker, D.O., pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Norton Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. By this point, Dr. Walker had been monitoring Kira’s growth for a couple of years, and the family was very comfortable in his care.

“I had so much trust in Dr. Walker,” Kira said. “I wasn’t nervous at all.”

“The whole journey was terrific. Dr. Walker would explain everything in detail and answer all of our questions,” Amy said. “The whole hospital staff was great. They called me every hour to give me updates.”

The recovery after surgery was quick. Kira was in the hospital for around three days, and her care team had her moving soon after surgery.

“The first day she was a little sore, but they had her up and going,” Amy said. “Her back didn’t hurt, and she was doing exercise and walking in the hospital. She’s looked perfect ever since then.”

Eager to be active again, Kira was quick to ask Dr. Walker when she could return to sports, and she would ask at every follow-up appointment.

“When they showed us the before and after X-rays, it was emotional to see how curved [Kira’s spine] was and how straight it was after her surgery,” Amy said.

One year after surgery, Kira informed Dr. Walker that she wanted to tube during a camping trip, and she was able to get the OK to return to water sports. Dr. Walker agreed that she was healthy and strong enough to jump back into her active lifestyle.

“Kira’s case proves that life is not over after PSF [surgery],” Dr. Walker said. “Most people have no limitations or very few limitations after recovery.”