View Full Version : Activities after 1 year

11-22-2008, 10:19 AM
My daughter is almost 1 year post surgery (T3-L4) and has been doing very well. She is playing volleyball in school this year and hasn't had any problems. She had a few collissions with team mates and fell but still, no problems or complaints. She's actually one of the star players on the team and I'm very happy for her.

Later this school year, she says that in PE, they will be doing a unit on Wrestling. I am very concerned about that unit as it is a little more physical and she could be dropped on the floor on her back.

So I'm wondering from those of you who are post surgery and active again, how physical are you and do you have any problems as a result? She is wanting to go skiing this year too and I'm worried about that too, even though the surgeon lifted all her restrictions in June.


11-22-2008, 12:04 PM
Karen, as you know I'm a LONG way from being under 18 (too far from my liking, most definitely! ;-), but I have always been active (pre and post-op), and wanted to add a few thoughts ...

Anytime you have a question about a particular activity, remember you can always check with her surgeon.

From what I've read, bungee jumping is usually about the only restriction that remains after all others are lifted: As far as I'm concerned, it not good for ANYONE ~anyway ... LOL - it's a LOT of force on even a 100% healthy body!

If I did it, my back would only be one of *many* areas of concern. I can just envision myself "coming apart" at several different areas (knees, ankles, shoulders, etc. ;-).

Personally, I don't think wrestling should be a problem (again, if it worries you, ask her surgeon for peace of mind).

Certainly, it's more worrisome when it's your child (vs. you), but when my surgeon lifted all my restrictions at 6 months I took him at his word. I've been back playing softball since 7 months post-op. I've had collisions running bases, collisions with baserunners (I play 2nd), I've slid, been stepped on, and dove after balls. I'm less sore after a double header that I am spending a day doing a task that requires long periods of being bent over (i.e., cleaning the tub or oven).

Although the instrumented area is quite durable early after surgery (from the hardware alone), it very, VERY strong once it's all reinforced by a solid fusion. By the time restrictions are lifted, assuming the fusion took 100%, it would be quite tough to damage things.

Here's an example that might help put things in perspective: Driving (and the chance of collision) is probably one of the biggest risks out there, but almost all of us do it.

Another thing to consider is this:

You mentioned she'd had collisions playing volleyball (and congrats on her talents!) and fell. She's already taken unexpected tumbles on an UNpadded gym floor: In wrestling, there is *some* padding to absorb the shock.

Easier said than done, I'm sure, but try not to worry. Check with her doctor if it helps to allay your fears, but I really don't think it's going to be a problem.

Best regards,

11-25-2008, 07:46 AM
Thank you Pam. I will check with the doctor - her 1 year follow up is on Dec 13. When I talk about it with my daughter, she does say she's not too keen on wrestling for fear of hurting her back. She's always generally been cautious so I might just go with her gut and let her try it out and if she's not comfortable, tell her to stop.

I'll let you know what the surgeon says..

11-25-2008, 08:16 AM

My son (13) was fused just under two weeks ago T2-L4. Your daughter's fusion is the closest I've heard of to my son's in his age group. We learned he would be fused to L4 two days before surgery (his curve progressed dramatically in the few months right before the surgery date), and I have been anxious about his future flexibility.

It sounds like your daughter is very athletically inclined. How is her flexibilty? What is she able to do and not do? My son is more cerebral than athletic and certainly is not seriously inclined to team contact sports, but over the years he has enjoyed running, ultimate frizbee, basketball, whitewater kayaking, x-country skiing, and lots of backpacking. He also is interested in rock climbing. I think he doesn't even really know what he wants to do with his body yet. Of course we will follow the surgeon's instructions as to what he is allowed to do when.

Any info you're willing to share about your/your daughter's experience in the first year post-op would be helpful. Has she had to adapt a lot? Thanks.

Mary Ellen

11-27-2008, 08:44 AM
Hi Mary Ellen,

My daughter's fusion hasn't limited her very much at all. The one thing she cannot do is stretch to the point of being able to touch her toes. Her back is very straight and people always comment about what a great posture she has - she stands tall and walks tall and always looks confident as a result.

She had a bumpy start with her surgery. She ended up having to have two - 5 days apart. During the first surgery (Nov 30, 2007), the monitors were not happy with the rods and send off the warning signals that the spinal cord was being compromised. Just as they were about to stitch her up, they had to quickly pull the rods out, tried again and still the monitors weren't happy so they made the decision to abandon the surgery and allow the spinal cord swelling to come down for a few days. 5 days later, they tried to put the rods in again and thankfully that time there were no problems. Her correction was great - she went from a 75*T and 65*L to less that than 20* for both. But despite all that, her recovery went very well and she was back to school full time right after the Xmas break.

During the first 6 months after surgery, she took it very easy, as per surgeons instructions. We did a lot of walking though. She occasionally had some discomfort and cracking and popping noises always freaked her out but I think it was just her body, bones, muscles, etc. settling. Once her restrictions were lifted, she gradually became active again with swimming, jogging, and doing normal 13 y.o. things. She's pretty cautious by nature so it wasn't too difficult to keep her from doing anything too risky. She started training for volleyball in late August and by the end of September was regularly playing on her school team.

Now, 1 year later, it's hard to believe that we went through all that we did last year. She's doing very well and when I ask her if she feels limited in any way, she says no. She doesn't even think about her back anymore and forgets that she's got titanium rods, hooks and screws in her back. And her scar is fading very nicely.

So more than you wanted to know but my fingers ran away on me. ;-)

I hope your son heals quickly and if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.


11-27-2008, 04:32 PM

Thanks so much for your answer. It wasn't too much; it was exactly what I wanted to know. I hope Sidney's recovery is as good. Although his lumbar curve was a little smaller than your daughter's, his T curve was exactly the same. And the x-ray showed a correction to about ~T17. It is very encouraging to hear how she's doing.

So now I have another question--for you and anyone else: now that Sidney is home and doing well, we are noticing one shoulder is significantly higher than the other. Also, his torso still looks twisted. If we ask him to lower one shoulder and stand straigher, he can. Of course, he is only two weeks out from surgery and he still walks very stiffly and gingerly, so I'm not surprised he's holding himself in his old position.

My question is, do the muscles settle into a new position over time? I have read that they do with some kids. I know we can't expect perfect straightness, and the body will take some time to adjust. Do things typically get better? We will ask at our 6-week checkup with the surgeon in January, but I wanted to get some feedback from experienced folks. It's my current obsession....

Mary Ellen

11-27-2008, 06:28 PM
My question is, do the muscles settle into a new position over time? I have read that they do with some kids. I know we can't expect perfect straightness, and the body will take some time to adjust. Do things typically get better? We will ask at our 6-week checkup with the surgeon in January, but I wanted to get some feedback from experienced folks. It's my current obsession....

Mary Ellen, this even happens with adults.

I couldn't walk a straight line for about 2 weeks after surgery ... everything was ~off~. Many people report their previously "droopy" shoulder is *higher* after surgery (but eventually settles in around 1-2 months post up).

Try not to worry ... things WILL balance out. ;-) Hanson told me things (including correction) generally improve for up to 6 months after surgery.


11-27-2008, 08:04 PM
Thanks, Pam! I needed to hear that.


11-28-2008, 08:01 AM

What I neglected to add was how amazed I am that you and your daughter got through that "bumpy" (an understatement!) beginning to her surgery. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have that happen, then wait 5 days to begin again, not knowing what might happen. I'm so glad it came to a successful completion. The whole process--surgery, and recovery--is so amazing!

Mary Ellen

11-28-2008, 10:04 AM
Thanks gals! More answers to some of my questions....my left side of my back sticks out further than the other...I was told it was mainly my muscles being pushed & squished, which causes them to "stick outward". Its nice to know that after such a painful & complex surgery, the end result, after a few months will be good. Thanks again!

11-28-2008, 05:35 PM
Mary Ellen,

I don't recall my daughter having uneven shoulders but her rib hump almost appeared worse than before the surgery. However, after probably about 6-8 weeks, she loosened up and relaxed her muscles and it didn't seem so bad. I can still see it but only because I'm looking for it.

And, as Pam mentioned, I do recall her walking a little funny after. Also, she was suddenly 2 inches taller and trying to get coordinated again and used to being taller. I still remember the look on my 10 year old son's face when we brought mydaughter home from the hospital. He just stared at his sister and said something like "holy cow, are you ever tall!"

Yes, those unexpected 5 days in between surgeries were very difficult. Since her spine was unstable after the first surgery, she was on complete bed rest for those 5 days (they shaved the bone off her vertabrae to use for the fusion so she was not allowed to stand up or move around.) During that time, I was worried that perhaps the 2nd surgery wouldn't work either and somehow she'd be stuck like that for life. It was quite the stressful, emotional, rollercoaster..