Life-Changing Spine Surgery At Barrow Helps Tennis Player Get Back On The Court

Life-Changing Spine Surgery At Barrow Helps Tennis Player Get Back On The Court

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Linda Van Goor’s back problems started at birth. She was born missing a socket in one leg, but didn’t have surgery to fix it until her parents noticed that her walking was delayed. Then, when Linda was in high school, her gym teacher pointed out that she walked with a limp. Linda visited her doctor, who confirmed that one of her legs was one-inch shorter than the other. The doctor didn’t seem too concerned, and he sent Linda home with no further instructions. In the meantime, that limp was slowly causing severe curvature in her back.

Linda continued on and became a teacher for over 21 years. She loved her work dearly and was always on her feet teaching lessons, helping students, and organizing projects. Being active fueled Linda’s zest for life. She was determined to keep it that way after she retired. So at 45 years old, Linda started playing tennis competitively again, loving every minute of the game and the community of players that soon became close friends.

At the same time, however, Linda began to develop terrible sciatica pain that radiated down into her leg and made it difficult to stand. “I visited numerous chiropractors and finally one of them suggested that I get an X-ray. That was the first time anyone saw how curved my back was. It was shocking,” Linda recalls. She did everything she could to manage the pain, but nothing seemed to help.

By 2018, every time Linda stepped onto the tennis court, she had to battle excruciating pain. “I could still swing a racket and lunge for a ball, but I couldn’t stand or walk without having to sit down every few minutes,” she says. “I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even stand and talk with my friends in between games.” This was not how Linda expected her retirement, or life, to be like.

Soon, the pain became unbearable. That’s when Linda’s physical therapist recommended Jay Turner, MD, PhD, at Barrow Neurological Institute. Dr. Turner said he could do the spine surgery that Linda’s other doctors weren’t willing to take on. However, it would be an extremely serious operation. “I decided to take the risk. Living the rest of my life not being able to stand or walk was just not an option for me,” Linda says.

In April 2021, Linda underwent a complex spine surgery with Dr. Turner, who was able to stabilize her entire spine. Just six months after the operation, she played in her first tennis match, and won. She then went on to win 16 more matches that season.

“Seeking out Dr. Turner for another opinion made all difference in the world. What he did for me was completely life-changing. Just day-to-day being able to stand and walk and not having to be in a wheelchair is a true blessing,” Linda says. “I am proof that you can survive and thrive after a surgery like that. I’m just glad there’s places like Barrow and surgeons like Dr. Turner who are willing to help.”

Incredible success stories like Linda’s are made possible through philanthropy. Your support of the Sonntag Spine Center at Barrow will help further its mission of revolutionizing the treatment of spinal disorders through cutting-edge research, innovation, and education.

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