A DUBLIN hospital has launched an online campaign to raise awareness of spinal conditions in young people and hail the resilience of scoliosis patients.
Cappagh Hospital’s ‘Scoliosis Warriors’ initiative seeks to acknowledge the strength of young patients and create greater public awareness of the condition.
Millie, 17, from Dublin was just 13 when she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine that can restrict growth and organs and cause extreme pain, affecting around one per cent of the population.
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She told Dublin Gazette: “It was a new word to me. At first, I thought it was a really big and scary word but Dr Green put me at ease from the first appointment.
“When I was waiting for surgery, I found social media to be very helpful to connect with other scoliosis patients.
“One of my closest friends also had scoliosis and she was waiting for surgery at the same time. It was nice to have a friend going through the same thing.
“We were able to relate to each other and it helped me to process the whole aspect of surgery. I didn’t feel as alone.”
She added: “Scoliosis has helped me to appreciate my body and to understand that everyone is unique in their own way.
“Two years have passed since my surgery. I am very grateful to have had a straight-forward, positive journey. I think scoliosis has changed my life in many ways and it has made me more resilient.
“But there are days where I don’t think about scoliosis. I have slowly moved on. Scoliosis does not define me.”
Paediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Cappagh, Dr Connor Green, wants former patients to share their experiences to inspire others and “initiate a conversation”.
Over the past year, the hospital’s ‘Rapid Access Scoliosis Service’ has reduced the waiting list for initial consultations for scoliosis patients from 18 months to one month.
Cappagh Hospital completed 86 spinal fusion surgeries in the past two years, with two surgeons operating on each patient to speed up the process and allow for two procedures to take place on the same day.
To find out more about the ‘Scoliosis Warriors’ campaign visit @nationalorthopaedichospital on Facebook or @NOHCOrthopaedic on Twitter.