Medical Minute 11-30: Scoliosis

By: Andrew McIntosh Email
By: Andrew McIntosh Email

At 39, Julie Flores enjoys the little things in life, but it wasn't too long ago Julia's routine was a lot different.

"I just felt like it was painful, it was no fun."

It started with a head tilt at the age of five. By the time Julia turned eight, her upper body was bent almost in half. She was diagnosed with dystonia, a movement disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms. By then severe scoliosis had set in too.

"I'll never forget one comment someone made of a high school boy who saw her and said oh look at that giraffe."

By the time Julia hit 30, even house work caused unimaginable pain. Then, her mom found Doctor Frank Acosta.

"Hers was an extreme case where her spine was essentially shaped like an S," said Frank Acosta, M.D., Director of Spinal Deformaty Cedar-Sinai.

"This is a pretty severe case, yeah, one of the worst I have ever seen."

After two operations, Doctor Acosta placed screws down Julia's spine with help from computer navigation. The goal was to take some pressure off her lung, organs and nerves and realign her spine.

After nine weeks at the hospital and four months of physical therapy: success.

"I sat next to her and Julie was I think two inches taller than me."

"When I got up and I sat up, I was like wow."

Julia can now stand up straight for the first time in 31 years.

"I feel like god gave me this whole brand new life again."

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