Rachel Baginski

spine curvature vermont fahc

Rachel Baginski was 10 years old and at a routine pediatrician’s visit when she first found out there was a curve in her spine.

A follow-up x-ray revealed she had a mild form of scoliosis.

Baginski, of Charlotte, said she was a little scared when she first heard the diagnosis. "I had just read a book about this girl who had really, really bad scoliosis and I thought it was like that for everyone."

Baginski’s family was also worried, because so much was unknown.

"You just don't know how it will turn out long-term,” said Rachel's mother, Allison Baginski. “I was concerned about her needing to wear a brace and then you don't know if she would have to wear it all day, or at night. You don't know if she will need surgery. It's very unnerving at first."

Fortunately for the Baginskis, Rachel was able to take advantage of a new genetic test at Fletcher Allen that determines whether patients’ scoliosis will progress to a severe curve and eventually need surgery.

The genetic test, developed by a Fletcher Allen orthopedic surgeon, in conjunction with researchers at Axial Biotech, Inc., is designed for children ages 9 to 13 who have been diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. It is done through a simple spit test. 

In Rachel’s case, the test brought good news: she was at low risk for developing a severe curve. A follow-up x-ray had also indicated her curve was straightening.

Today, the scoliosis doesn’t bother her at all. An active, athletic 13-year-old, Rachel plays lacrosse, basketball and runs cross-country at Charlotte Central School.

The genetic test helped avoid months of constant monitoring and repetitive x-rays to track the progression of the disease, Allison Baginski said.

“It’s really reassuring. It saves all those trips into the doctor every six months and worrying every single time. It’s so nice to not have to do that.”