We recently had the great pleasure of meeting Madison Storm, Associate Health Editor at US News and World Report. While working on a scoliosis-centered article, Madison – a former scoliosis patient herself – sought out our founder and chief orthotist, Luke Stikeleather, to gain some insights on advancements in scoliosis treatment.
Luke was honored to meet Madison and share his experiences with her. Likewise, we were interested in learning about Madison’s childhood experience with her own scoliosis treatment and its influence on her adult life and career.
Madison was diagnosed at seven or eight years old when her pediatrician observed a curvature in her spine at a routine annual check-up. She had not experienced any pain at that point, and as a young child was unfamiliar with scoliosis. She was referred to Pediatric Orthopedist and Surgeon, Dr. Paul Sponseller at Johns Hopkins.
Madison was fitted for a brace which she was to wear at night. She recalls that with her initial brace she was not as compliant with her wear time as she could have been, had she been more mature and better understood the seriousness of her condition. Subsequently, her curve increased to a point where she was required to wear her brace for 22 hours a day, seven days a week. As she continued to grow, she was fitted for three more braces until she finished bracing in 2016.
As she grew up, Madison was determined not to let scoliosis prevent her from being active and doing what she loved. She stayed involved in sports and other school activities throughout high school.
“I participated in soccer, indoor track, and theater. I wanted to be a part of those things, so it was important that I not let scoliosis stop me. That really forced me to be okay with my brace,” she says.
Still, there were times when her scoliosis journey took a toll on her mental health. Madison credits support groups with helping her through the difficult periods, and she encourages new patients to find a community where they can share experiences with others facing similar challenges.
“I felt really seen in those groups,” she says. “The other patients were very encouraging. I left feeling motivated to wear my brace more often.”
Madison enjoyed getting a chance to speak with Luke, finding him informative, kind, friendly and an excellent resource for her article. She says that meeting with him encouraged her to reflect on her own journey and schedule a follow-up with her orthopedic doctor.
“It does get better,” Madison advises new patients. “Be patient and know that this shouldn’t keep you from being active and participating in what you love to do.”
Madison’s future aspirations lie in the health field. Currently, she is working toward her Master’s in Health Communication at Johns Hopkins University, with an interest in health editorial as well as risk and crisis communications.
“In my coursework over the years, I’ve learned the importance of being communicative about health conditions and treatment,” says Madison. “It’s an honor to share my scoliosis experience with others.”
We were honored to meet Madison and collaborate on her story. We’re certain that her work will raise awareness about scoliosis and will benefit current and future patients.