Meet Lexie

Future TikTok Influencer

Lexie is a vibrant and charismatic 15-year-old student and cheer squad member who happens to have scoliosis. Diagnosed at age 12, she didn’t even know she had it until she stepped out of the shower one day and her mom noticed her waistline and shoulders were asymmetrical. After visiting her pediatrician, Lexie was referred to Honolulu Shriners Hospital where further evaluation and X-rays confirmed she had a 24 degree curvature of her spine. While the images surprised Lexie, little did she know they would play a personal role in her journey with scoliosis.

Lexie and her parents were advised that she would need to wear a custom back brace 18 hours a day for more than a year. Initially, she felt her strong convictions and positive attitude could push her through the discomfort of wearing it. She quickly learned it would be far more challenging as the brace caused her extreme pain and an inability to sleep. With tears in her eyes, she sought solace from her parents who did their best to encourage her that she was strong and doing this for the right reasons. But there was more to it than that.

She reflected on how her life would change, including what she would wear over her brace, whether or not she’d be bullied at school, or if she could remain on the cheer squad. After all, cheer was her life, requiring six-days a week practices involving stunts, tumbling, dancing, bridging, bending and jumping - things she always took for granted. So she began wearing her brace under her clothes to hide it from her classmates and removed it before practices, hoping no one would notice.

Keeping things hidden was not Lexie’s style. Encouraged by her parents to educate and inform others, she decided to wear her brace over her clothes one day. She even carried her X-ray with her as her way of letting her peers and teachers know that she had scoliosis and that she was still the same energetic and expressive Lexie everyone knew. Surprisingly, the thought of being bullied faded as her classmates supported her with some being curious enough to want to try on her brace.

She continued to wear the brace as prescribed, only removing it during cheer practice and while bathing. She found creative routines to manage the discomfort by wearing her brace over form-fitting undershirts to prevent skin irritation and bruising and wearing ankle weights on her wrists while she slept to prevent her from inadvertently detaching it. With the desire to help others, she channeled her outgoing personality into creating informational YouTube videos, sharing her journey and tips on how to make the brace more manageable. And while she’s proud of being part of her cheer squad that took second place at a recent competition, she is also passionate about her other interests, including cooking and baking for her family and creating TikTok dance videos with her friends.

After 18 months of wearing her brace, Lexie was able to achieve her care goals and no longer needed to wear it. She recently shared her journey at a Shriners Hospital scoliosis conference. Her Shriners ‘ohana will celebrate the day when she becomes the TikTok influencer she wants to be!

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