Scoliosis support group formed

Published 12:09 am Friday, October 22, 2010

Staff Writer

Since being diagnosed with scoliosis, Vicky Respass has had to endure four surgeries — and could be forced to go through a fifth.
She has had to wear back braces to help correct a 67-degree curve in her spine.
One invasive surgical procedure, lasting four hours, required her to use a walker during a three-month recovery period. After the surgery, the 19-year-old was restricted from lifting objects of more than 15 pounds for a year.
“It limited me in every single way possible,” Respass said.
None of these misfortunes has slowed her down permanently. A former dance student who has been studying theater at East Carolina University, Respass now walks without the aid of a brace, a walker or any other device.
Furthermore, Respass has started a state chapter of a scoliosis support group which she hopes will aid others who have confronted the ailment she has fought for years.
“I’m trying to get people who actually have problems with it,” she said.
The North Carolina chapter of Curvy Girls, founded by Respass, is part of a national Curvy Girls organization, a nonprofit with branches in five states, according to Laura Bortz, Respass’ mother.
Respass is working to have the state chapter recognized as a 501(c)(3) entity, meaning any contributions to it would be tax deductible, Bortz related.
Once Respass has attracted more volunteers to her cause, she hopes to begin scheduling fundraising events to benefit such groups as the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Other fundraisers, yet to be determined, could consist of plays to generate funds for Curvy Girls or charity walks to bring in support for scoliosis victims who need surgeries.
Respass also wants to meet with young people who have had scoliosis, while her mother meets with their parents or guardians to mull over ways to meet this affliction head on.
“The ultimate goal is to provide (information and support), especially (to) the teenagers, the adolescent group, because it’s not just the disease itself it’s the social aspect of it,” Bortz said. “The typical scoliosis is actually on the rise and they’re not sure why. There are many more cases of it now than there were, say, 20 years ago.”
Respass’ scoliosis was — is — idiopathic, meaning its cause couldn’t be determined, Bortz explained.
Yet, detection of the disease is one way to combat it, she pointed out.
“One of the goals of this group is to reinstate the testing for (scoliosis) at the fifth and sixth grade in the school system,” Bortz said, adding that such tests are no longer common in schools.
“It lasts 30 seconds,” Respass said, referring to the initial test, which, she added, is quick, painless and all visual.
“The only reason they found mine was because of a back spasm in the sixth grade,” Respass continued, adding she didn’t benefit from the testing that was done for older generations when they were in school.
That spasm, experienced in gym class, led to an X-ray and a diagnosis.
Citing numbers from the National Scoliosis Foundation, Respass said the disease directly affects 2 to 3 percent of the population, and that girls are eight times more likely to have it than boys.
Respass’ recently spawned initiative already is attracting supporters.
Eric Schultz, store manager at Office Depot in Washington, confirmed he donated some printed materials to Curvy Girls.
“She’s nonprofit, she’s trying not to spend as much money as possible and still get things kick-started,” Schultz said. “For someone of that age, I think it’s great.”
For more information, e-mail or visit the group’s Facebook page by typing in the key words Curvy Girls N.C.