Stacy Lewis is a professional golfer and a star on the LPGA Tour who has not only amassed an incredible record of achievements during her collegiate and amateur career, but she has done it after overcoming the negative side effects of progressive scoliosis.
Stacy's Scoliosis Diagnosis & Treatment
At the age of 11, during a school screening exam, it was discovered that she had asymmetry of her back when she bent forward. A visit to a pediatric spine deformity specialist and the ensuing x-rays confirmed the diagnosis of scoliosis - an excessive rotational deformity of the spine. For 7 ½ years, she wore a back brace for 18 hours a day or more, even while she slept She took it off only to play golf. Stacy knew, when she stopped growing, she would be able to shed the back brace, which she did at age 18. Unfortunately, once out of the brace, the spine deformity continued to progress to the point where surgery was recommended to prevent further progression of her condition. This was nearly devastating to Stacy because just months earlier, she had accepted a golf scholarship to the University of Arkansas. Now, she wasn't sure if after surgery, she would be able to play golf at that level again.
After being told by the Arkansas golf team coach that she would hold a spot for her, Stacy made the difficult decision to proceed with surgery. Knowing that she was a golfer and that motion of the spine was critical to her success, Stacy's surgeon chose a muscle sparing surgery that addressed the deformity from the "front" of the spine and allowed him to fuse fewer levels of the lumbar spine. A single rod and 5 screws were inserted into her spine and a nice, balanced correction was achieved. "Saving a level" would allow the extra mobility that is so well demonstrated in Stacy's swing today. After 3 more months in a brace and then another 6 months of golf rehab, Stacy began to putt and chip and slowly worked her way back unto the University of Arkansas golf team in 2004. In fact, the extra time Stacy spent working on her short game and the determination she harnessed to overcome her scoliosis resulted in a remarkable transformation of her golf game.
Post Treatment: Win, Win, Win
By the time she graduated in 2008, Stacy had accumulated an incredible 12 NCAA wins including the 2007 NCAA individual championship! In addition, while playing as an invited student during the inaugural LPGA NW Arkansas championship, Stacy "won" the tournament only to have it declared unofficial when they cancelled the rest of the event due to rain. After staying all four years and graduating with a double major in finance and accounting from The University of Arkansas, Stacy played in her final amateur event - the prestigious Curtis Cup at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland. During that tournament, Stacy not only helped the United States team win, but set a record to become the first player in Curtis Cup history to record 5 wins against 0 losses.
Stacy turned pro in mid-summer 2008, just in time for the US Women's Open. Showing the poise and skill of an LPGA veteran, Stacy took the lead in the world's most prestigious women's tournament after 3 rounds and played in the final group in the final round before finishing in third place. In December 2008, Stacy officially earned her LPGA "Tour Card" by winning the LPGA Qualifying Tournament by 3 strokes over the strongest Q-school field in LPGA history. In April 2011, Stacy cemented her status as one of the very best golfers in the world by winning a major championship - the Kraft Nabisco - and outplaying the #1 player in the world!
Today, Stacy is playing a full schedule on the LPGA Tour but is careful to take good care of her back through regular stretching and strengthening exercises. As someone who persevered through a frightening childhood condition and has overcome so much to succeed, Stacy is a true inspiration. Dealing with so much adversity as a teenager has given her a tremendous level of maturity when she is staring down a tough shot. Now, as a spokesperson for the Scoliosis Research Society, Stacy is also an inspiration to thousands of kids around the world who no longer have to be fearful that scoliosis might be the end to an active and productive life.
You can follow Stacy's career as well as see her actual pre and post-operative x-rays on her website at www.StacysBack.com.