Your Healthy Family: Colorado Springs volleyball player deals with scoliosis

Posted at 11:25 AM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 14:14:31-04

Almost every athlete finds joy in their chosen sport.  Kennedy Garnhart is no different and when it comes to volleyball, a game her whole family loves.  She was born to make things happen as a setter.  Now, Kennedy is on her way to play for Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire next year as a freshman, but she had to overcome a huge medical obstacle to get there.

Her mom Kimberly Garnhart is very proud of how far her daughter has come.  “Seeing her get the opportunity to sign (on signing day) was amazing it’s something that she’s worked really hard for.”

While every athlete who has the chance to play at the college level works hard to get there, Kennedy has overcome more than most in the process.

When Kennedy was 12 she says everything seemed normal until, “One day I was bending over to tie my shoe and my mom was like, ‘something’s not right.’  So then we went to the doctor and they’re like ‘oh yeah that’s not normal’ and then they sent us to get x-rays for scoliosis.” The results of the x-rays were positive.

Dr. Brian Shaw is Kennedy’s pediatric orthopedic surgeon with Children’s Hospital Colorado in Colorado Springs who explains, “Scoliosis is a curve in the spine that goes from one side to the other.  Typically it’s noted between the age of 11 and 13 and it’s mostly in girls at a 10-1 ratio of girls to boys and it’s a genetic condition.”

When the degree of the curve gets extreme, in the 40 to 50 degree range is usually when surgery is recommended to straighten the spine.

When Kennedy was wrapping up her junior year at Liberty High School in Colorado Springs, she was having an unusual amount of back pain and had a feeling that her scoliosis had gotten worse.  X-rays showed her curve had reached 50 degrees and the thought of facing surgery to have steel rods implanted to her spine to fix the problem hit pretty hard.

Kennedy remembers, “I was really scared, when he (Dr. Shaw) told me that I freaked out, and I was like ‘can I still play volleyball? Can I still have a normal life?’.”

In the next Your Healthy Family story we will share Kennedy’s road to recovery, and her return to the volleyball court for her senior season at Liberty, and the bright future she’s now heading toward.