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Teen suffering from scoliosis makes remarkable recovery following surgery

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 10:22 a.m. MDT

Eighteen-year-old Tayler Hansen, along with her parents Sharen and Mark Hansen, sees her  progress on X-rays with orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Smith at Primary Children's Medical Center.   (Mike Terry, Mike Terry, Deseret News) Eighteen-year-old Tayler Hansen, along with her parents Sharen and Mark Hansen, sees her progress on X-rays with orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Smith at Primary Children's Medical Center. (Mike Terry, Mike Terry, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Four years ago, cheerleader Tayler Hansen was diagnosed with scoliosis — a curving of her spine. If left uncorrected, it would eventually push against her lungs.

In decades past, the corrective surgery took eight to 12 hours with recovery lasting many months. But this determined Timpview High School senior is back on her feet less than a month after her April 4 surgery.

Hansen says she had a very noticeable hump on her back and that for years, she couldn't see one of her shoulder blades.

After seeing several doctors, she was referred to orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Smith at Primary Children's Medical Center. One of the first things Smith did was put 18-year-old Hansen in a brace.

"The goal of the brace is to stop the progression of the curve while the child goes through her adolescent growth spurt," Smith said.

One month after having two rods put into her back to straighten her spine, 18-year-old Tayler Hansen along with her parents Sharen and Mark Hansen, sees her progress on X-rays with her physician and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. John Smith at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.   (Mike Terry, Deseret News) One month after having two rods put into her back to straighten her spine, 18-year-old Tayler Hansen along with her parents Sharen and Mark Hansen, sees her progress on X-rays with her physician and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. John Smith at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

She wore the uncomfortable brace for nine months. While it helped, her condition eventually worsened.

"That came as kind of a shock when we learned that she had to have surgery," said Sharen Hansen, Tayler's mother.

In early April, Tayler Hansen underwent a spinal fusion.

"We are able to grab onto the spine at multiple points using something called a pedicle screw," Smith explained. "You attach two rods that are shaped like the spine should be shaped. In doing that, it corrects the deformity."

The surgery took 2½ hours.

"The first thing I noticed out of surgery was that her torso was elongated, that she actually got more height in her torso," Sharen Hansen said.

Dr. John Smith at Primary Children's Medical Center checks the scar on Taylor Hansen's back on Tuesday.     (Mike Terry, Mike Terry, Deseret News) Dr. John Smith at Primary Children's Medical Center checks the scar on Taylor Hansen's back on Tuesday. (Mike Terry, Mike Terry, Deseret News)

"I'm not 5 foot anymore, I'm 5 feet 1 inch now," Tayler Hansen said, proudly.

She was walking the next day.

"I'd say the first few weeks were pretty painful," she said. "I just wanted to sit on my bed or my couch and just read my book or watch TV."

But she says she is doing well now. She's a little sore, but moving around. On Monday, she was back at school.

Dr. Smith is one of the best in the world in his field. "Kids from all over the world come to have this surgery done by him, and doctors from all over the world come to be trained under Dr. Smith," Sharen Hansen said.

Tuesday, Tayler Hansen returned to Primary Children's Medical Center to meet with Smith for the first time in a month. From the outside, her incision looks good but the before and after X-rays show the change.

Tayler Hansen recovers in the hospital after her April surgery for scoliosis. The high school senior is back on her feet less than a month after two rods were fused to her spine. (Mike Terry, Deseret News, Hansen Family Photo, Mike Terry, Deseret News, Mike Terry, Deseret News) Tayler Hansen recovers in the hospital after her April surgery for scoliosis. The high school senior is back on her feet less than a month after two rods were fused to her spine. (Mike Terry, Deseret News, Hansen Family Photo, Mike Terry, Deseret News, Mike Terry, Deseret News)

With a straighter spine, her internal organs will be much healthier, she'll live without pain and there is another upside — perfect posture.

"Looking back, I know at first I didn't want this, but it's been a blessing in disguise," she said. "Everything has fallen into place and I know that the Lord has had a major part in this."

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

Email: cmikita@desnews.com

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