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Thread: 18 yr. old post surgery activity questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    12

    Question 18 yr. old post surgery activity questions

    Hello,
    My son is just 18 and scheduled to have fusion in June. By Dr. Sears in Knoxville Tennessee. My son is a college freshman and I am concerned about his healing as School starts in August which will be barely 8 weeks out of surgery. Dr. Sears Thinks he will not need any PT and that carrying a 35 lb backpack on a still fusing spine will be fine. I just find that hard to accept and would love to know anyones thoughts or experiences on the subject. As for the therapy I don't see what it can hurt as long as he has insurance. I would think he'd be better prepared to return the the rigors of campus which is a lot of walking ect..
    Thank you,
    Mary

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    160
    I would have to agree on the need for at least a little PT after he has recovered...just because he is getting his spine fused doesn't mean that the muscle imbalances on either side of his spine will magically be fixed. they'll still be there...which i think is a contributing factor as to why some people's curves continue to progress even after fusion. at any rate, i'm not a doctor, but it can't hurt! i would think it would only help him feel stronger and more comfortable. as for the backpack, i'm not sure...but i would tend to lay off that for a while if possible! there are backpacks on wheels...there were actually a bunch of people on my college campus that had them...might want to look into that. hope that helps a little!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    7,187
    Hi Mary...

    While some surgeons prescribe PT after surgery, in my experience, most don't. As to other activities, I have a page on my website that might be helpful:

    http://www.scoliosislinks.com/PostSurgActivities.htm

    Regards,
    Linda

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    46

    Same situation

    Hi Mary,
    I'm a 19 year old sophomore in college and I'm having the surgery this summer in late June. Initially, I was planning on having the surgery after I graduated or at least until I had a FULL summer to recover but I decided to make an appointment with the surgeon over my spring break which was just a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, he assured me that I would be ready to go back to school in late August! I was really shocked since that leaves just a little over a month to heal from this major surgery. He said he even sees high school students going back a few weeks after the surgery. My surgeon didn't think I would need PT either.
    I was really hesitant about this so I even talked to a nurse practitioner who was (thankfully) able to break it down for me and reassure me that everything would be okay. I think the young age has a lot to do with the recovery process being fairly short. I go to a residential college so I'm here for weeks at a time with a lot of walking also, and the nurse said that if I don't feel comfortable carrying around a backpack at first, I could start off with little shoulder bags. I normally choose shoulder bags rather than backpacks but we'll see! If your son feels uncomfortable at first, I would suggest carrying a light load and switching books in between classes.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    132

    Our experience

    Here is our experience...Carolyn had her surgery on March 9 and she will be going back to school on April 27.

    She *easily* could have gone back this Monday. The only reason we didn't was because she is getting homebound tutoring & since the HSers are having a short week next week due to testing...by pushing it off until the 27th, we get 1 extra week of homebound tutoring to get her caught up.

    She has been ready to go back to school for a while now. We just had our first post-op appt. this week.

    The only iffy thing I would wonder about is the weight. I was surprised but Carolyn was told she could lift up to 20 pounds right now.
    Becky
    Mom to DD (15) with S 48*+ curve
    Had her surgery March 9, 2009

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    NC
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    9,297
    Quote Originally Posted by mbrehm View Post
    Hello,
    My son is just 18 and scheduled to have fusion in June. By Dr. Sears in Knoxville Tennessee. My son is a college freshman and I am concerned about his healing as School starts in August which will be barely 8 weeks out of surgery.
    Eight weeks sounds like more than enough time per the material I was given by our surgeon and my daughter's recovery. In the material it said say most kids are back in school before in-home tutoring kicks in at 4 weeks. Indeed, my daughter was comfortably back in school full time at ~ 3.5 weeks though could have been back at 3 weeks. She was allowed to carry up to 10 pounds at that point.

    I predict your son's recovery speed will shock you as my daughter's did me. It's a good argument in my opinion for having this surgery done as soon as the patient is qualified in adolescence and not as an adult when it seems like there is almost always further damage which results in far longer rehab periods.

    Dr. Sears Thinks he will not need any PT and that carrying a 35 lb backpack on a still fusing spine will be fine. I just find that hard to accept and would love to know anyones thoughts or experiences on the subject. As for the therapy I don't see what it can hurt as long as he has insurance. I would think he'd be better prepared to return the the rigors of campus which is a lot of walking etc..
    It's an interesting question. There is a difference between needing PT and it just speeding up the rehab process. As I understand it, the majority of kids at least, and I am including your son in that group, do not need PT to fully recover within a few months. If true, I wonder if insurance will pay for it without the referral.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    12
    I totally agree and it is obviouis how more developed the muscle is on his right side. I think if I insist on it the Doc. will set him up for some. Even though he is pretty sure of himself.
    thanks


    Quote Originally Posted by MissEmmyF View Post
    I would have to agree on the need for at least a little PT after he has recovered...just because he is getting his spine fused doesn't mean that the muscle imbalances on either side of his spine will magically be fixed. they'll still be there...which i think is a contributing factor as to why some people's curves continue to progress even after fusion. at any rate, i'm not a doctor, but it can't hurt! i would think it would only help him feel stronger and more comfortable. as for the backpack, i'm not sure...but i would tend to lay off that for a while if possible! there are backpacks on wheels...there were actually a bunch of people on my college campus that had them...might want to look into that. hope that helps a little!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    12
    I guess so, It seems hard to believe he will be back living his life so soon after such a serious surgery. I'm far more frightened of it than he is.----------------

    I predict your son's recovery speed will shock you as my daughter's did me. It's a good argument in my opinion for having this surgery done as soon as the patient is qualified in adolescence and not as an adult when it seems like there is almost always further damage which results in far longer rehab periods.
    --------------------------

    His insurance will pay if the Doctor that does the surgery sets it up for us
    It just makes sense to me that he would feel that much better going back to school.
    --------------------
    It's an interesting question. There is a difference between needing PT and it just speeding up the rehab process. As I understand it, the majority of kids at least, and I am including your son in that group, do not need PT to fully recover within a few months. If true, I wonder if insurance will pay for it without the referral.[/QUOTE]

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    12

    thank you

    You two are in the same boat this summer ! He's having his on June 23rd. John lives on campus during school and he will really have to watch some things. Linda's website was very helpful. He will have to watch bending down and putting his hands over his head. He's thinking the loft bed may not be the best idea for at least the first semester. He is against the wheeled backpacks because they are difficult on stairs and flip over a lot. I think I will push for some PT sessions regardless of what his doc says,
    and get him doing some swimming and moderate exercise in the month before the surgery.
    Quote Originally Posted by curvycakes View Post
    Hi Mary,
    I'm a 19 year old sophomore in college and I'm having the surgery this summer in late June. Initially, I was planning on having the surgery after I graduated or at least until I had a FULL summer to recover but I decided to make an appointment with the surgeon over my spring break which was just a few weeks ago. Surprisingly, he assured me that I would be ready to go back to school in late August! I was really shocked since that leaves just a little over a month to heal from this major surgery. He said he even sees high school students going back a few weeks after the surgery. My surgeon didn't think I would need PT either.
    I was really hesitant about this so I even talked to a nurse practitioner who was (thankfully) able to break it down for me and reassure me that everything would be okay. I think the young age has a lot to do with the recovery process being fairly short. I go to a residential college so I'm here for weeks at a time with a lot of walking also, and the nurse said that if I don't feel comfortable carrying around a backpack at first, I could start off with little shoulder bags. I normally choose shoulder bags rather than backpacks but we'll see! If your son feels uncomfortable at first, I would suggest carrying a light load and switching books in between classes.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    28
    I am having surgery this summer and I have pretty significant muscle imbalance in my back because I have a lot of rotation. Do you think I should consider taking any action on this before and after the surgery, if so, what should I do?
    Also this may be a stupid question but what is PT?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    9,297
    Physical Therapy

    Also short for Pterodactyl, all of whom lived and died before the Big Bang.
    Sharon, mother of identical twin girls with scoliosis

    No island of sanity.

    Question: What do you call alternative medicine that works?
    Answer: Medicine


    "We are all African."

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    12
    My son has a visible muscle imbalance also. My Chiropractor gave him some "Thera bands" people use for yoga and showed him how to use them. Basically he steps on the band and pulls up with his weaker side. This is a low impact resistance exercise. I plan to also get him swimming in the weeks before surgery. I think the stronger he is and the better circulation he has in his muscles the better. That being said I wouldn't recommend anything too high impact we just want him as healthy as possible and not have a lot of stiffness. I have also been told that after he is well enough healed the muscle structure will even itself out with normal moderate exercise. We have a second opinion set up to address this same question and other post op issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by ScolioDan View Post
    I am having surgery this summer and I have pretty significant muscle imbalance in my back because I have a lot of rotation. Do you think I should consider taking any action on this before and after the surgery, if so, what should I do?
    Also this may be a stupid question but what is PT?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    52
    Quote Originally Posted by mbrehm View Post
    Hello,
    My son is just 18 and scheduled to have fusion in June. By Dr. Sears in Knoxville Tennessee. My son is a college freshman and I am concerned about his healing as School starts in August which will be barely 8 weeks out of surgery. Dr. Sears Thinks he will not need any PT and that carrying a 35 lb backpack on a still fusing spine will be fine. I just find that hard to accept and would love to know anyones thoughts or experiences on the subject. As for the therapy I don't see what it can hurt as long as he has insurance. I would think he'd be better prepared to return the the rigors of campus which is a lot of walking ect..
    Thank you,
    Mary
    Hi Mary,
    I am also in the same position as your son. I am 20 and a junior in college. I am having my surgery on June 1st though, so I will have almost 3 months before I go back. My doctor has said that by the time I go back, I won't have any restrictions that would affect me at school. He also doesn't usually prescribe PT for someone my age, but he did say he would if I thought I needed it. Hopefully he is right because I am going into my senior year and will have A LOT to do!
    Sarah
    22 year old grad student
    Boston brace from 12-14
    surgery on June 1, 2009 T3 to L2
    Yale New Haven Hospital Dr. Grauer
    Thoracic curve 47*
    Thoracolumbar curve 54*

    Surgery Photos
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?ai...8&l=a2a5799140

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    San Antonio
    Posts
    7
    To speak from experience, if you have the surgery in late June you will be more than ready to return to college in August. I had my surgery last summer on June 25th, and made my return to class by late August. I was 19 when I had the fusion done. In terms of actually "going" to school, it wasn't that easy. I had a hard time lifting my lunch tray, carrying my back pack was uncomfortable if it had more than a few note pads in it, and the drugs I was on made doing school work very difficult. The mix of pain killers and elavil (to treat nerve pain) made focusing on reading/studying vary hard early on. BUT, this was only till about October when I no longer needed either of the medications.
    In general, just know that the first 6 months are the toughest for recovery, some people may recover more quickly but I was a tobacco user prior to surgery. I returned to sports in late january, and today at nearly 10 months recovery I am playing contact basketball on a regular basis. I hope this lends some general insight into what recovery is like for a 19 y/o after spinal fusion.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    12
    All the best to you and everyone having surgery this year. Reading peoples experiences with getting back to school ect. is very helpful. College life is very rigorous! a lot of walking and carrying things.



    Quote Originally Posted by sarah105 View Post
    Hi Mary,
    I am also in the same position as your son. I am 20 and a junior in college. I am having my surgery on June 1st though, so I will have almost 3 months before I go back. My doctor has said that by the time I go back, I won't have any restrictions that would affect me at school. He also doesn't usually prescribe PT for someone my age, but he did say he would if I thought I needed it. Hopefully he is right because I am going into my senior year and will have A LOT to do!

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