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Something to Cheer for



Gabby, 13, is a dedicated cheerleader who has had her sights set on competing at a national level. But back pain due to scoliosis required that she take a slight detour on the road to S-U-C-C-E-S-S. With her condition rapidly worsening, Gabby was referred to Shriners Children’s Northern California and orthopedic spine surgeon and medical director of the Pediatric Spine Program, Rolando Roberto, M.D. 

Gabby learned she was a good candidate for a less invasive surgical procedure called VBT, vertebral body tethering. Although it was a long and complicated surgery, she was released home 48 hours after surgery and cleared for all activity just five weeks later. “I threw my first handspring the day after I was cleared,” said Gabby. 

Gabby is grateful to be back in the gym performing all of her favorite moves, including the spike, a balancing move. The spike requires extreme spinal flexibility and is a spectacle when an athlete can pull it off. When a 13-year-old has it mastered after going through spine surgery? Simply amazing. 

“My back doesn’t hurt anymore,” said Gabby. “My knees and hips are in alignment so those don’t hurt anymore either, and I can do all the same things as before, plus more. I’m really glad I had the surgery.” 

And that national competition? In April, Gabby competed in The Summit Championship Varsity All Star cheerleading tournament, a competition her coach called the “Super Bowl of cheerleading.” There, she helped her team, Korra of Nor Cal Elite All-Stars, win it all.