A TEENAGE swimmer whose life fell apart after being diagnosed with a life-limiting spinal cord condition is now making a splash back in the water, writes Annabal Bagdi.
Sheridan Jenkins, 17, was left devastated when she was diagnosed with scoliosis four years ago after developing a severe curved spine.
A keen competitor in local swimming competitions, the aquatic ace faced risky surgery as her only option to save her mobility.
Sheridan, of Davenant Road, North Oxford, said: “I was so upset when I was told about my spine.
“I had always loved being in the water and I was getting really good, training up to four times a week.”
Informed her favourite stroke, front crawl, was putting serious strain on her spine and shoulder muscles, Sheridan faced the prospect of abandoning all hopes of competitive swimming.
Unable to even look at a swimming pool, the usually optimistic teenager started to lose confidence and hid under baggy clothing as her flexibility began to deteriorate.
Mother Georgia Jenkins, 49, said: “Sheridan changed literally overnight; she had become so deflated and depressed from the diagnosis and I had seen her confident, happy personality drain away.”
Hoping for an alternative to the spinal fusion surgery offered to sufferers, her family hunted for non-surgical treatments, stumbling across the Scoliosis SOS centre.
Founded by scoliosis sufferer Erika Maude, the London-based clinic is the only provider in the world to offer treatment following the ScolioGold method.
Sheridan underwent a four- week treatment course in April where she learnt a number of vital muscle strengthening exercises.
Within weeks, the teenager’s condition began to drastically improve and she started to regain her confidence.
Mrs Jenkins said: “As soon as she started treatment and met other girls with the same condition, she started to bounce back.”
With the scoliosis now under control, Sheridan has returned to swimming practice, setting her sights on re-entering the sport competitively next year.
She said: “Scoliosis destroys your confidence, it makes you paranoid and I always felt like I was on my own. But going on the course and meeting so many other girls with the condition was amazing and has given me hope for the future.
“I am so relieved to get back to what I love.”
Eager to raise awareness with young people in the area, the teenager is planning to share her story to support others battling the condition.
She said: “I would like to tell anyone with scoliosis this is not a huge problem, it is only a problem if the condition is not treated and ignored like mine was for so long.
“There is no need to let your curve get worse when you can exercise and keep yourself straight. It’s hard work but it really pays off and I feel better about my body than I have felt in years.”
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