A new minimally-invasive surgery is helping patients with scoliosis get back on their feet in half the time as traditional treatment.
Anyka Recio was able to do a flip three and a half months after her back surgery. The 14-year-old gymnast is now returning to tumbling and dance four years after being diagnosed with scoliosis, a debilitating curvature of the spine. The condition left Recio in a brace and constant pain.
“I thought my life was over when they told me that I had scoliosis,” she said.
Recio said her back feels a lot better than before her operation in March. Recio and her family chose a new surgery done through small incisions called tethering.
“We place screws into the vertebra, or the building blocks of the spine, and then we connect them with a flexible rope, essentially a cord, which we then tension and get correction of the curve, while again maintaining flexibility and growth of the spine,” said Dr. Baron Lonner from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
He said patients are able to get back to their physical activities in half the time, compared to the more invasive spinal fusion.
“I think the promise of this operation of tethering is that, not only will it maintain flexibility now, but it may result in less problems that we see sometimes after a fusion,” he said.
Recio is still recovering, and while it's sometimes been a painful process, she says moments like landing her back flip give her confidence.
“As soon as I landed it, I thought, oh my God, I could do this again, like, I’m myself again. Like, I like I've been pushed to my limits and I was still able to do what I really wanted to do,” she said.
Recio is jumping for joy now that she keeps doing what she loves.
Lonner emphasizes not all scoliosis patients are candidates for this procedure.