SEVEN-year-old Gracie Mann was a normal little girl until she was diagnosed with a severe curve in her spine and told she needed an operation to save her mobility at the age of five.
Gracie, from Little Breach, Chichester, loved sports and had always dreamed of a career as a professional swimmer, but the diagnosis shattered her dreams and left her in excruciating pain.
The condition left her facing major surgery until she discovered an exercise routine which drastically changed her prognosis.
Gracie had always been very fit and active throughout her life until her mother started to notice her shoulder blade was protruding so severely that she thought she had broken her shoulder.
The youngster had started getting tired far quicker than normal and was complaining of pains in her back.
They went to an emergency appointment at their family GP who immediately gave them the devastating diagnosis that Gracie had scoliosis, meaning curvature of the spine.
The family were told to expect surgery within six months.
Gracie’s mother said: “Scoliosis completely rocked my Gracie’s world. She had always been so passionate about keeping fit and swimming, getting in the water and giving absolutely everything to performing, but when she started feeling tired and getting pain down her back, it was really hard for her to stay motivated. She struggled to keep up with all of her practices and lost loads of confidence.”
When the Mann family did their own research, they discovered that scoliosis was a progressive condition and it needed to be treated as soon as possible to prevent any further damage.
Scoliosis causes the spine to excessively curve sideways. The condition affects more than four per cent of the population and if left un-treated, can lead to fatal heart and lung problems.
The family was told Gracie’s only option would be to have a ten-hour operation which involves metal rods being inserted either side of the spine, before the spine is fused solid.
But her family searched the internet for alternative treatments and that is when they discovered Scoliosis SOS.
Founded and run by Erika Maude, who has scoliosis herself, it is the only clinic in the world to offer treatment which is the combination of non-surgical treatments, which have been practised separately in Europe for several decades.
Gracie was booked onto a four-week treatment course and her family were overwhelmed with the results she achieved.
Her mother said: “Gracie really is back to her old self again. She is such a determined little girl and although I had always thought she would never let anything hold her back, the scoliosis diagnosis really got to her.
“She lost so much confidence so fast and was desperate to hide her back in fear of other children making comments. Seeing her in tears all of the time was dreadful, I felt useless.
“The exercise course was the best decision we have ever made. I was worried she was a bit young, but she was absolutely fine and there were so many other young children doing the treatment. They all seemed to bounce off each other and the therapists were excellent at keeping them all motivated.
“I am so glad we have been able to avoid surgery. It seemed so final and anything could have gone wrong. Gracie would have had to give up swimming while she recovered and I doubt she would have ever regained her confidence. I could not have hoped for a better outcome!”
For more information visit www.scoliosisSOS.com