As if the teenage years aren’t hard enough, at only 15 years old Kelsi Hart was diagnosed with scoliosis. In an attempt to correct her scoliosis without surgery, Kelsi wore a back brace for 23 hours a day for one year. This included sleeping in the brace and attempting to hide the brace under her clothes during the day.
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine and most often occurs right before puberty during the growth spurt. Bracing is necessary if the scoliosis is past 20 or 25 degrees. A brace will prevent the curve from getting worse and hopefully help the patient avoid surgery.
After a year passed, Kelsi was told she could stop wearing the brace. However, two months without the brace and Kelsi’s spine worsened from a 38 degree curve to a 51 degree curve.
Reluctantly, Kelsi went in to a local Indianapolis hospital for her first spine surgery at 16 years old. She had a short rod and five screws placed around her spine in an effort to make it straighter.
After surgery, Kelsi had to learn how to walk again because she had lost feeling in her right leg. However, she felt like she could stand up straighter and was confident that the surgery had worked.
But that confidence didn’t last. Kelsi’s spine began to bend the short rod because the screws did not fuse correctly. Kelsi had no other option but to have another surgery where she had two long rods inserted to correct her spine.
Once again, Kelsi worked hard to rehab her spine after her second surgery. Unfortunately, she soon found out that they thought she had an infection growing around the screws in her spine. Kelsi went in for her third surgery where they found that it wasn’t an infection after all. Instead, Kelsi’s screws in her spine had become loose, again.
Kelsi’s body was attempting to protect itself by rejecting the hardware that was supposed to be helping correct her spine. After her third surgery, she felt self-assured that her spine was now on the road to recovery.
“At this point I was 19. After my long journey with scoliosis, I thought the ‘third time’s the charm’ and I hoped for no more procedures,” said Kelsi. “I received my college degree which landed myself with a career in the operating room and for once, I was on the other side of the knife.”
After working in the operating room for two years as a surgical technologist, Kelsi’s back pain returned. She developed a painful popping feeling in her lower back when she would sit or bend over.
“I ignored it for a while until the pain increased down both legs and I could barely participate in daily activities,” she said.
The pain had led Kelsi to stop caring about the things in life she used to have a lot of passion for.
“I loved my job in the operating room, but the pain made it difficult to be productive at work. I couldn’t stand for long periods of time without my legs becoming tingly and I couldn’t sit too long before my hips and legs would ache and throb.”
Additionally, Kelsi started to struggle with her self-esteem and self-confidence. She saw her friends and family less and she constantly felt irritable and anxious as a side effect of the pain.
Since Kelsi was working in an operating room, she desperately asked a spine surgeon she regularly assisted for advice on what she should do next.
“That’s the first time I heard of Dr. Poulter with OrthoIndy. I immediately made an appointment with him and it was very easy to get on his schedule as a new patient,” she said.
OrthoIndy spine surgeon Dr. Greg Poulter specializes in extreme spine conditions like Kelsi’s.
“I instantly had a comfortable experience with Dr. Poulter. He has a great bedside manner and truly listened to my concerns. He didn’t make me feel ‘too young’ to be in the pain I was in, like I had experienced from other offices during my second opinions. Everyone expects you to feel good when you are 25 years old. I didn’t feel good, physically or emotionally.”
Dr. Poulter determined one of Kelsi’s rods had been rubbing against her spine and hollowing out a hole in her vertebra every time she would bend, sit or move. At 25 years old Kelsi was looking at a fourth spine surgery.
During Kelsi’s surgery Dr. Poulter replaced Kelsi’s rods and repaired her failed fusion. This allowed Kelsi to stand up straight without pain.
Kelsi was overjoyed with the outcome. “I feel more confident than ever after Dr. Poulter fixed my spine. Having multiple spine surgeries as a young woman can hit your self-esteem pretty hard. Dr. Poulter and his OrthoIndy team gave me back the confidence to express my vivacious personality again,” said Kelsi.
For Kelsi, life has returned to normal again. She plans to spend a lot of time riding her motorcycle, being outside and spending time with her dogs.
“I can ride my motorcycle, work in the OR and even do a simple task such as bend over again. We take for granted simple things such as walking, bending and running. When that is taken from us, especially at a young age, it is liberating to gain it back,” she said.
“I have been honored and delighted to work with Kelsi,” said Dr. Poulter. “From start to finish she put forward a positive attitude and did an amazing job in her recovery. It is so rewarding to see her improve.”
“At 25 years old, I never knew what to expect of my life with the pain that I endured at such a young age. OrthoIndy gave me my life back, before it even really began. I am confident my life holds a lot more adventure, and I am thankful I can now experience it, 100 percent thanks to OrthoIndy.”
Recognize Kelsi? She is in our OrthoIndy Spine commercial. Watch the video at OrthoIndy.com/spine.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Poulter, please call 317.802.2424.