Dancing Free of Surgery; Good Health; How Alternative Therapy Saved a Teenager's Dream

Article excerpt

Byline: SOFIE FORD

STRIKING a classic ballet pose, en pointe with a perfectly straight back, she looks every inch the graceful and athletic dancer.

But only five years ago Sophie Reed, 17, was told by doctors that she would never dance again after being diagnosed with a crippling spinal condition.

Sophie, from Mount Vernon, Glasgow, was just 12 when she learned she had scoliosis which, if left untreated, can lead to heart and lung complications.

But after 'life changing' treatment the teenager is back on the stage once more.

Her parents, Roger and Jill, were told the only cure for the curvature in her spine would be to insert metal rods into Sophie's back, a procedure which would end her competitive dancing.

But with the help of the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, devoted to curing the condition without surgery, Sophie is back in her ballet shoes.

The clinic, in Martlesham, Suffolk, is the only one of its kind in the UK which specialises in non-invasive therapies involving an intensive course of exercises to improve spinal flexibility and posture.

Yet despite claims by the clinic that such treatment allows 88 per cent of patients to avoid any major operations, most scoliosis sufferers are left waiting until the condition becomes so critical that the only option is surgery. Sophie said: 'When I was first told I had scoliosis, my whole world fell down around me. I felt disgusting. I also felt like everybody was looking at my back.

'I was told that surgery was my only option. I was also told that if I refused surgery then I could end up in a wheelchair.'

Sophie added: 'I felt like I had been backed into a corner. I can remember spending a lot of time on my own, and the slightest thing would reduce me to tears.

'I lost so much confidence and I thought my only option was to undergo major spinal surgery. I love dancing and I knew having the surgery meant losing the majority of my flexibility.'

Scoliosis, which affects slightly more than 4 per cent of the population, causes the spine to curve excessively sideways. …