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
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.
Your No1 guide to getting married in Kent. From dresses to discos and venues to veils, we've got everything you could possibly need for your big day
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
We have four editions of our Kent Homes, Gardens and Interiors magazine for you to read. Click here to view them all.