Published: 00:01, 04 August 2014 |
Updated: 10:05, 04 August 2014
Abigail Smallwood, 19, was diagnosed with scoliosis three years ago and told the only way to treat it was with a risky major operation that would stop her dancing for nine months and leave her with limited flexibility.
If untreated the condition, which causes the spine to curve sideways, can cause fatal heart and lung problems.
Abigail, of Trapfield Close in Bearsted, said: “It can cause serious pain in my back and I was desperate to find a way of avoiding surgery.
“I thought I was going to have to accept it and that was just the way life was going to be, and that I would have to give up dancing which would have been extremely hard.”
But now, thanks to an innovative exercise course, the former pupil at Cornwallis Academy, Maidstone, has avoided surgery and started a degree in dance at the University of Roehampton.
The alternative treatment involves a set of movements, which strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine and stabilise the condition.
The teenager has danced on and off since she was four years old, but only noticed the condition after a her teacher pointed out problems with her posture when she was 16.
In a state of panic, Abigail went to her aunt, a radiographer, and an X-ray confirmed she had the progressive condition, with a curve at a 25-degree angle.
"I thought I was going to have to accept it and that was just the way life was going to be, and that I would have to give up dancing which would have been extremely hard" - Abigail Smallwood
Existing treatment waits until the curve becomes so severe that the only option left is to operate, which involves metal rods being inserted either side of the spine, before it is fused solid.
In search of a miracle, Abigail and her family searched the internet for alternative treatments and discovered Scoliosis SOS.
A month-long course, at a London clinic, cost the family £3,500, but Abigail said it changed her life.
She added: “My pain has dramatically decreased through doing these exercises and my confidence has really improved.
“Now I am planning a placement in New York so I can look for dancing opportunities there.”
Stories you might have missed
Don't miss out, subscribe today. Keep up to date with our newsletters.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating! PLUS, register for free!.
Find out what's going on in the garden, with Kent expert Lucy Hewett's weekly update.
Buy pictures that you've seen in a KM newspaper, or send in a picture and we will place it on our photo sales website so that you can purchase a super, unique gift.