Courtesy of Trana Pittam, Director of Public Relations at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Greenville
For Katie Lyons, state runner-up in the 200 Breast at the 2016 SC Long Course Championship Meet, member of Hilton Head Aquatics Swim Club and USA Swimming, a love for the sport began at 7 months old when her toes touched the pool’s water for the first time. At age 4, Katie swam in her first meet. But weeks before she turned 10, her coach noticed something about Katie’s back that would change her life.
Observing a rib cage protrusion that looked similar to another teammate who had been diagnosed with scoliosis, the coach contacted Katie’s parents.
The next day, her pediatrician confirmed the suspicion: Katie had scoliosis.
Within a week, Katie traveled to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Greenville, South Carolina where she began treatment for an “S” curvature of her spine and was given a 98 percent chance of needing surgery. She was fit for a brace, which she wore 20 hours a day and only took off for swim practice and bathing.
Due to her positive nature and brace compliance, Katie became an Ambassador for Shriners Hospitals. In addition to local events, Katie traveled to Las Vegas in 2015 where she was one of 22 national patients chosen to represent their hospital at the PGA Shriners Invitational Golf Tournament. Katie’s story of determination is also featured at Shriners Hospital Headquarters in Tampa, FL.
She has been removed from the surgical list and hopes to continue to avoid surgery as she goes through her adolescent growth; which for many scoliosis patients, can send their curves into fast forward.
Katie is on her 4th brace and has had great success in her treatment, which she attributes in part to her swimming regiment. The strength of her core and the daily stretching through stroke work has helped manage and lower her double curves. Meanwhile, Katie has become – literally – a poster child for Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Greenville Shriners Hospital is one of 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children – an international health care system dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs. Since 1927, Greenville Shriners Hospital has been caring for children with a wide range of orthopaedic and neuromuscular conditions using a multi-disciplinary approach, regardless of the family’s ability to pay.