Patient Story

Straight for the Net: an Athlete's Comeback After Spinal Fusion

This content is presented by the Lerner Children’s Pavilion.

Madison DeRose was first diagnosed with scoliosis in the 2nd grade. While she wore a brace, she continued to pursue her passion for playing soccer, lacrosse, and basketball for many years.

Madison received conservative treatment from Shevaun Doyle, MD, Assistant Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. However, by age 14, Madison’s condition had progressed to a level that required surgery. Given Madison’s passion for sports, her family was concerned by the impact the surgery might have on her ability to play at a competitive level in high school.

In May 2010, Dr. Doyle referred the Madison and her family to Roger F. Widmann, MD, Chief of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at HSS. Upon meeting Dr. Widmann, the family’s concern was alleviated. Madison’s mother explains: "I really appreciated Dr. Widmann’s attitude. Knowing that athletics was a big part of Madison’s life, he reassured us that spinal fusion would not change who she was as a person, and that she could resume her life as an athlete three months after surgery. Even though Madison was having major surgery, we did not feel like it was the end of the world. It almost felt routine."

In August 2010, Dr. Widmann performed the six hour spinal fusion surgery with great success. Dr. Widmann explains: "Her scoliosis was typical, but her high level of physical activity and the demands she would place on her fusion were not. Her expectation was that she would be able to play contact sports again – and my goal was to get her back to full activities, including athletics, 12 weeks from the date of surgery."

Madison recovered from surgery at home, taking several walks a day to build up her strength, as prescribed by Dr. Widmann. One month following surgery, Madison walked through the doors of Irvington High School for her first day of freshman year. "I had barely any pain," she says. "Three months after surgery I went back to playing basketball and had no difficulty at all." Later than year, Madison made the varsity lacrosse team and went on to be All-League. She returned to playing soccer the following fall.

Now years after surgery, Madison continues to be a serious athlete whose dream of playing college sports is well within reach. She is also a participant in an ongoing research study led by Dr. Widmann and Dr. Daniel W. Green, Associate Attending Orthopedic Surgeon at HSS. This study evaluates the parameters most closely associated with post-operative surgery and an early return to sports.

"Thanks to Dr. Widmann and the rest of the Hospital for Special Surgery pediatric team," says Mrs. DeRose, "she’s still Madison, only straighter."