Julia's Journey with Scoliosis
Being diagnosed at age 12 with scoliosis didn’t stop me from living my life the way I planned, but pushed me to accomplish more and strive to help others.
After having the first set of many X-rays, surgeons quickly discovered that the curve of my spine was increasing with my growth at a fast pace. It was soon decided that surgery was to be my best option. This would entail fusing my spine with rods from the vertebrae T4 all the way down to L4 spanning most of my back. Being an active young girl, this option was not one I wanted to take. It would cause most of my physical activity to stop for 6 months to a year, but I would also never completely get back to the level of activity I was at. My back would be stuck in a fixed posture. Although surgery for scoliosis is a fairly common procedure there are many lifelong complications that may come along with it.
Many more X-rays and MRI’s followed, I opted out of surgery to try a fairly new bracing system called the Scolibrace. At the time the surgeon I was seeing at the IWK highly recommended receiving surgery immediately, and insisted the bracing system would not work, that I would need surgery in years to come anyway. Over the next 6 months of wearing a brace that was 3D printed and specially made to fit my spinal curvature, X-rays told us the degree numbers of my spine were decreasing. The next 4 years were not always easy. It was tough wearing a brace that was painful and not comfortable. Every time I went for an update I would hope for good news. Most of the time if I had been doing my part by being diligent in wearing my brace and being active, there would be good news. Overall, my scoliosis decreased by 15 degrees. Going from 53-38 degrees. Something multiple surgeons said would never happen. This put me out of surgical range, unless surgery was needed for another cause other than the degree number.
My spine 6 months in of wearing the brace. My current spinal measurements are at 43 (top) and 42 (Bottom)
The surgeon at the IWK is now working with scoliosis patients and their doctors to see who would qualify for the Scolibrace and taking preventative surgical measures, recognizing that, in some patient’s, surgery is not always necessary. My spinal curvature is stable at 43 degrees; however, it is a daily reminder and a continuous battle to stay healthy, practice strengthening, stretching, and being mindful of what my body needs.
Competing for NB at the Canada Winter Games 2019
Growing up as a patient to many different health care practitioners such as doctors, surgeons, chiropractors, physio and massage therapists automatically spiked career interest in the medical field. Dealing with scoliosis hasn’t always been easy but it made me want to make life easier for others who have the same, or similar, struggles. I wanted a job where my knowledge of the spine and my sports background could be put in good use, I could spend one-on-one time with the patient to develop a case load and see what treatment protocol works best for that individual. Exploring different career paths and looking to see what I thought could make a difference in people’s lives made becoming a Registered Massage Therapist an easy decision.
I am loving my job at Max Moncton Physiotherapy and with Crandall University Athletics Department where I get to help make a difference in people’s lives.
Julia Cook, RMT
Julia graduated from Atlantic College of Therapeutic Massage in 2021 and immediately joined the Max Moncton team. She has proven to be an asset to our team. She is highly motivated, wise beyond her years and takes a client-centred approach that is very valuable to anyone seeking treatment. To book a massage with her contact (506) 388-1333 or book online at maxmoncton.ca.