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11-year-old boy had to hang in frame for 12 hours a day ahead of spinal surgery

11-year-old boy had to hang in frame for 12 hours a day ahead of spinal surgery

He is finally undergoing surgery today after years of living with a twisted spine

A schoolboy with scoliosis had to hang in a frame on wheels for 12 hours a day before undergoing surgery, after many doctors thought his condition was too severe to treat.

Jackson Sledge, 11, was born with scoliosis, which is the abnormal curvature and twisting of the spine.

It became worse as he grew older, resulting in a 128-degree curve in his spine.

Doctors wanted to get Jackson into a position for surgery, so suggested he spent months in hospital using a halo gravity traction device - which involves the patient being suspended by a frame by a device attached to their skull, pulling the spine to straighten it.

Jackson, from Houston in Texas, has been in in-patient since mid-December, spending every day in the frame.

However, after a recent x-ray revealed an improvement of more than 50 percent to the curvature – now at just 60 degrees – he is finally ready for surgery taking place today (Friday 7 April).

His sister Maya Sledge, 20, said: "The night before he got his halo, I sat Jackson down.

"I said to him 'you can be sad about this, or you can go into hospital and have a great few months and walk out with some good memories'.

Jackson Sledge, 11.

"Thanks to the halo gravity traction he can finally have his surgery and doctors are hopeful for the best results."

Jackson’s family tried everything to improve his condition when he was younger, including getting body casts on his chest.

But nothing seemed to work, and by December 2022 the curvature of his spine was at 128 degrees – so extreme that doctors wouldn’t be able to perform spinal fusion surgery to correct it unless the angle was reduced.

Maya continued: "With Jackson, it was so severe they needed something to loosen the spine before they could do the surgery.

"They need to stretch it out and loosen it up, or he’d be really short and his back wouldn't be as straight as we wanted it."

The change to Jackson's spine curvature.

Jackson spent four months at a hospital in north Texas, and since mid-December has been spending 12 hours a day in the Halo Gravity traction device, which sees surgeons attach a metal ‘halo’ to a child’s skull using pins, which is then connected to a pulley system on a metal frame.

More weights are added over time, which leads to the head and spine being pulled upwards, in turn straightening it.

"We had seen other kids with it, but nothing can prepares you for your brother to wake up with a big titanium thing on his head with screws sticking out,” Maya said.

Jackson is finally undergoing surgery today.

Jackson has been living at the hospital – which is five hours away from his parents in Houston and sister in Lubbock – and even goes to school there.

When they visit him at weekends, he’s been able to show off the tricks he’s learnt on the Halo device, including dangling from his head and spinning in circles.

Maya said: "The first few days it was uncomfortable for him and he was taking pain relief.

"But as soon he got used to the feeling he was like any other normal kid.

"When Jackson's curvature was at its worst, his spine began pushing onto his lungs.

"As he got his halo on, we realised he could run for much longer and his appetite got better because his spine stopped pushing onto other organs."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: Health, Real Life, US News