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Here is what two North Bay mothers want you know about scoliosis

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June is national Scoliosis Awareness month and two North Bay families are sharing their stories to help others understand the disease of the spine.

Friends Ella Silverthorn and Ava Beattie both have scoliosis, a disease where the spine curves sideways.

Ava was diagnosed after her parents noticed her posture was leaning over to one side when she was on stage performing.

A local specialist and x-rays found severe scoliosis in May 2023.

"I didn't really feel any pain, but as it went on, like in the year, I could feel more pain," Ava said.

"When we were skiing, it felt really bad."

She had surgery to correct it in January and is already back on stage dancing.

"We were on a waitlist for almost a year before Ava was able to receive surgery and her curvature actually increased by over 12 degrees in that time," Beattie said.

"We had to see the specialist in Ottawa at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). We took a lot of trips to Ottawa and there was a lot of expensive travel bills, hotel bills and wait times that we had before surgery happened."

The two girls' mothers, Stephanie Silverthorn and Nicole Beattie, are co-chairing North Bay’s first Scoliosis Awareness Day at the YMCA to highlight the need for screening detection and education about the disease and its prevalence within our communities.

Ava Beattie and her mom Nicole building awareness for scoliosis, a disease that effects the spine. June 10, 2024 (Eric Taschner/CTV Northern Ontario)

Statistics show scoliosis affects about 100,000 Canadians, most of them young women.

"As a parent of a child who was diagnosed at a time when I really didn't know anything about this condition, I'm so proud that we are providing resources and awareness for the community," Silverthorn said.

As part of the awareness campaign, the moms came up with an idea to start an ambassador program. So, kids on local sports teams, in dance groups and at schools are encouraging their parents to check their spines regularly.

Ella Silverthorn and her mom Stephanie are bringing awareness to scoliosis. June 10, 2024 (Eric Taschner/CTV Northern Ontario)

"It's really important for parents to be aware that they can easily screen for scoliosis," said Lisa Dupres, the owner of Active Running and Therapy Centre.

"If they're not sure, it's just a matter of seeing a health care provider and having them guide on how to screen."

Despres is a registered physiotherapist who said early detection of scoliosis is crucial when it comes to effective treatment.

"Early intervention can take place and then, hopefully, prevent progression and severity of the treatment needed," she said.

Despite there being no full "cure," both girls are well on the road to recovery and see therapists and chiropractors.

Ava has some nerve damage, so there will be more tests and x-rays to come. She is hoping to return to contact sports in the next six to 12 months.

"There's a great team at CHEO and we have a really good team here at Active Running and Therapy who does her physio," said Beattie.

"We also see therapists at Hands The Family Help Network who've helped her with her pain management as well."

Ella, meanwhile, wears a brace at night.

"She's done an incredible job of really not letting it impact her day to day life," Silverthorn said.

"Her dad and I are super proud of her." 

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