The (Former) Hunchback of Tour de France

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Surgery For Scoliosis

Before the 1990s, scoliosis surgery involved wearing a cast for nine months afterward and a great deal more bed rest and recovery than is experience by kids today, says Dr. Andrew Casden, associate director of the Spine Institute of New York at Beth Israel Medical Center. "Now, there's no cast or brace post-op and with adolescents. The recovery can be quick. Kids are usually up walking the next day," he says.

While the rods used in scoliosis surgery are completely immobile titanium, the patient's movement is not really restricted if the surgery only deals with the thoracic, or upper spine. "These kids have pretty much a normal life after surgery," Casden says. When the curve of the scoliosis takes up the upper and lower portions of the spine however, the rods implanted can limit motion a bit and recovery can be longer.

In Joshua's case, the rods affected only his upper back and he has negligible limitation in his motion. He still suffers some aches and pains because of his condition, but otherwise he says he feels "fantastic."

"Before I was quite self conscious -- people would not know what to do when they saw my hump. It feels really good knowing that I look and feel normal. And the cycling is great fun. I've always liked cycling and now I get to experience one of the biggest races … the Tour de France."

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