Powerlifter Overcomes Scoliosis Surgery

On the fifth year anniversary of his scoliosis surgery, Travis and his family reflect on their experience after they received devastating news. 

At a young age, North Tonawanda-native Travis Barke was diagnosed with scoliosis during a routine physician with his family doctor. By the time he was 20 years old, surgery became essential, as his spine had curved to a dramatic 58-degree angle, puttinghis powerlifting career to a stop. In December 2012, Travis underwent an eight-hour spinal surgery with Dr. Christopher Hamill at Buffalo General Medical Center. The procedure consisted of inserting two rods and 17 screws into his back to straighten his spine. 

Post-surgery, Travis’s doctors and physical therapist recommended that change his career from powerlifting to a low-impact, desk job. Although Travis was devastated, he was determined to find a way to get back to the gym and powerlifting.

A year after his surgery, Dr. Hamill gave Travis the green light to slowly return to his former lifestyle. He headed back to gym, unsure of how much his body could handle. He started by lifting just 45 pounds, but after several years of training, Travis now liftsover 500 pounds and regularly competes in lifting competitions. Before surgery, his record was 315 pounds. He credits the additional 185 pounds to his mental endurance.

Travis has since won three first place competitions by the United States Powerlifting Association, and completed his certification as a certified personal trainer from NCCC, helping others achieve their fitness goals. 

He now lives a pain free life, and is a prime example of how a dedicated and determined person can work alongside their medical team to safely achieve their dreams. 


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