It’s been almost a year since Addie-Belle Rutman underwent a four-and-a-half-hour spinal fusion surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to correct the curvature of her spine, or scoliosis. Rutman now wants to help others with scoliosis through the Curvy Girls Foundation.
The Rutmans first learned that she had scoliosis at age seven and for the next three years, Rutman was fitted for and wore a custom brace to try and correct the curvature, but the brace was uncomfortable and made her feel like she couldn’t breathe. It also made her self conscious because it could be seen through her clothing.
Rutman underwent the surgery over Christmas break in 2018. Two titanium rods and 20 screws were placed in her back and her vertabrae were fused from T1 to L3.
Since having the surgery, Rutman has returned to most of the activities she was participating in prior to the surgery, something she had worried about prior to the surgery.
“I am back to swimming year around, doing flip turns with two metal rods and 20 screws [in her back], and I even played in a golf league this summer,” Rutman said.
She still goes to physical therapy for her shoulders, the only pain Rutman said she felt prior to surgery because they were tight and one was higher.
Rutman has also become the leader of the Western Kentucky chapter of the Curvy Girls Foundation, an international scoliosis peer support group founded in 2006.
She said that her family learned about Curvy Girls Foundation prior to her surgery and when her mother learned that Kentucky did not have a chapter, she researched the foundation and thought it would have been nice to have one for their family to have prior to Rutman’s surgery. Rutman’s mom talked to her, and she said she was interested in leading a chapter here.
“We only had one family locally to talk to that had been through spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis,” Rutman said. “We knew there had to be more and wanted to place for girls to come together and talk about scoliosis, ask questions of other girls and make new friendships. I hope this will be a group that girls look forward to coming to.”
Beginning in January 2020, the group will meet monthly to discuss the emotional impact of scoliosis while educating each other and providing mutual support and acceptance, which is part of the Curvy Girls mission statement.
“I am excited to meet others with scoliosis and talk about what they are going through,” Rutman said. “Some might be wearing a brace, facing surgery or maybe just found out they have scoliosis.”