NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Scoliosis is a curvature in the spine that makes it painful to walk or run, let alone participate in athletics.
A new procedure could help growing athletes get back in the game. On Wednesday, CBS2’s Steve Overmyer met a 14-year-old tennis player who has beaten the odds.
“She’s happy with herself. She’s back playing tennis. I’m sure she’s had apprehension before,” Emiline’s mother Diane said.
Not long after she fell in love with tennis Emiline was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. She earned a USTA ranking while playing through the pain. This year it got so bad that surgery was needed. In years past that meant a steel rod in the back.
It would have also meant that her career was over, but Dr. Baron Lonner used a new procedure called body tethering. It involves a flexible cord being attached to the bones. When tightened it straightens the spine. It corrected Emiline’s back in time for high school tennis tryouts.
“I think Emiline’s goal for making the tryouts for her tennis team kept her focused and driven, and she’s kept to that, and I’m very proud of her,” Dr. Lonner said.
“I just wanted to get it over with so I could go back to tennis. Like after the surgery it hurt, but it was over soon,” Emiline added.
It’s been three months since the fusionless cure. her spine has been corrected while maintaining flexibility.
“It can be devastating that you’ve been working for something all your life, and then you’re not going to be able to do it again. So the fact they offer this flexible tether option now is incredible,” Diane said.
Sometimes in tennis players have to rush the net. It’s aggressive, but has a high reward, much like Emiline’s decision to get surgery ahead of tryouts.
“It makes the point go quicker,” she said, “The sooner you get it over with the sooner you win.”
For Emiline the next step is making the high school team.
“It’d feel really good that all my work paid off. I’m ready to win,” she said.
Just being able to play the sport that she loves is another way to measure victory.
About 4 percent of the population has some form of scoliosis including 8 time gold medal winning swimmer Jenny Thompson, pro tennis player James Blake, and the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt.