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Transforming Lives

First Lady Debby Bailey

First Lady’s program raises awareness of scoliosis prevalence and treatments

One of the many ways to support the work of Shriners Hospitals for Children is through the effort known as the First Lady’s program.

Our unique health care system was founded in 1922 by the Shriners fraternity and is still supported by its members today. The leader of Shriners International and his wife serve one-year terms and are known as the Imperial Potentate and First Lady. This year, First Lady Debby Bailey, of Ogden Dunes, Indiana, is pleased to support the efforts of Shriners Hospitals for Children in providing information and treatment for scoliosis through her fundraising program, Transforming Lives.

Scoliosis is a common condition that, if left untreated, can have debilitating impacts on a child’s life. The physicians and staff of Shriners Hospitals for Children have pioneered medical breakthroughs and new treatment options that allow children who have scoliosis to enjoy rich, full lives.

“Detection and treatment of scoliosis are so important,” said First Lady Debby. “We are so proud that our medical teams have the opportunity to change and improve children’s lives.”

Customized treatments

Scoliosis is a disorder that results in a curved spine, causing it to take on as appearance that is sometimes similar to an “S” or “C” shape. No two cases are the same. Some children develop the condition during infancy, while others don’t exhibit symptoms until they’re approaching adolescence. Shriners Hospitals for Children’s medical teams create custom treatment plans for each child based on the severity of their condition.

Serial casting is often an effective option to slow the progression of a spinal curve. Children typically wear a cast for two to three months, then transition to a new one. Bracing is one of the least invasive treatment options for scoliosis. At Shriners Hospitals for Children, every scoliosis brace is customized to best address the severity and location of the patient’s spinal curve.

When surgery is the best option, our renowned orthopedic specialists have a wealth of experience. In fact, the medical team at our Philadelphia hospital developed an innovative treatment known as vertebral body tethering (VBT), a surgical procedure that both corrects the scoliosis curve and maintains flexibility of the spine. Shriners Hospitals for Children offers a variety of surgical options to meet the needs of individual patients.

Women & Philanthropy

Now in its third year, Women & Philanthropy is another effort that benefits the First Lady’s program. Membership is open to all women with a passion for helping children. Members recognize that by joining together, their gifts go further and can have a greater influence. All women who support the life-changing work of Shriners Hospitals for Children are invited to be part of this inspiring group.

To learn how you can support these programs, please visit and

Detect Scoliosis with the SpineScreen App

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic reduction in routine preventive health care. With fewer doctor visits, more conditions are going undiagnosed and untreated.

According to a recent American Academy of Pediatrics survey, the pandemic caused a dramatic reduction in pediatrician visits. Rolando Roberto, M.D., of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California, is especially concerned about how the pandemic has affected preteens in the early stages of developing adolescent-onset scoliosis. Scoliosis is diagnosed most often during routine pediatric visits, and the first signs of adolescent scoliosis are often easy to miss.

The first signs of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in fast- growing preteens and teenagers include:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder blade protruding more than the other
  • Ribs that are more prominent on one side
  • Uneven waistline and/or difference in hip height

Parents can increase their awareness and regularly check for these indicators. If parents spot signs of scoliosis, Dr. Roberto encourages them to perform a simple spine check on their children at home using the Shriners Hospital’s SpineScreen app. If there are irregularities, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician right away. To learn more about the app, visit