PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) — In just a matter of weeks, a Plano gymnast went from backflips and handstands to barely walking due to a common spinal disorder in child athletes.
In October, 12-year-old Kaleigh Clemons was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, a fairly common spinal disorder that can be triggered in children by activities like gymnastics or football.
The disorder is the result of stress on the bones in the lower back and occurs when a vertebra in the spine slips and presses on nerves.
“I was in so much pain, I couldn’t feel my legs,” Clemons said. “My knees would buckle and I would fall… And it got worse.”
But after Doctor Isador Lieberman, on the Texas Health Plano medical staff, performed back surgery on Clemons — using rods and screws to hold the bones in place — she said she is doing amazing and progressing faster than she thought.
“There’s no magic pill that’s going to straighten out the spine. There’s no magic exercise that’s going to relieve the nerve irritation,” Lieberman said. “For a structural problem, you need a structural solution and that means surgery.”
Clemons said it’s good to be able to just stand up and have conversations with people again.
She is currently going through rehab and physical therapy and her family credits her faith for getting through the “dark times of the last nine months.”