Dancing Through Scoliosis
My name is Aika Takagi. I’m 13 years old. I wanted to share my scoliosis and dance journey. My scoliosis and dance journey are intertwined through my love for dance and pushing myself to do better in everything I do.
When I was 11, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. Scoliosis is where you have a curvature of the spine. My curve started at 25 degrees which meant that I needed a back brace. By the time I got my back brace, my curve was at 36 degrees. At first, I was quite scared about the fact that scoliosis is unpredictable, and you can’t control your back no matter what you do. However, like dance, each scoliosis journey is unique and you must make it your own.
I dance at the Cass-Barrington Academy of Irish Dance in Houston, TX, USA. My teachers have supported my scoliosis journey so much. Due to the double curve I have and the strong push my back brace does to try to stop my curve from progressing, my back hurts occasionally when I am out of my brace to dance, and if I do too much dancing my back starts to really hurt. Therefore, every now and then I have to sit down and watch dance class. My teachers push me to challenge myself each time at practice and competitions. Dance has given me happiness and it lets me be my “normal” self. I truly appreciate even more now what dance gives me and what dance teaches me…practice and persistence will pay off and bring you to new limits. Dance is both a physical and mental sport. At times you must tell your brain that despite the pain you feel with sore muscles, it will pay off. I remember this when bracing gets restricting and overwhelming, and I feel like giving up.
Irish dancing has helped me so much on my back journey. All my dance friends are very supportive as well. That means so much and helps me with the tougher times. When I’m in the middle of practicing, competing, or even just thinking about my dancing, my back doesn’t hurt as much. Thanks to my brace and my compliance, my curvature degree has decreased, which is very rare to happen. Currently when out of my brace, my curvature is around 12 degrees. In my brace x-rays, they show my curvature is currently at 2 degrees. I am far from done with my scoliosis journey, but I am celebrating this victory, like a dancer does at each competition. My follow up appointments are like Feises when I can celebrate each victory and then keep on working towards the next one. Irish dance has helped me go on with my scoliosis journey. To any Irish dancer who is reading this and you have a medical issue or an injury, dance will give you strength to fight and save your life. Keep dancing.