Return to School Following Scoliosis Surgery: A Qualitative Analysis
Mount Saint Vincent University
Previous studies demonstrate that recovering from Spinal Fusion with Instrumentation surgery for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis is extensive and demanding. Consequently, adolescents who undergo the procedure must navigate challenges when returning to their daily lives. Arguably one of the most prominent aspects of adolescents’ daily living is school, but the experience of returning to school following spinal surgery has not been investigated. Considering that successful school functioning is often considered a benchmark of childhood, the goal of this study was to examine the experience of returning to school following spinal surgery. Specific objectives were to (1) gain a firsthand account of participants return to school experience, (2) explore the challenges adolescents faced, (3) explore the supports they found beneficial, and (4) explore what role pain played in their return to school. Semi-structured interviews were completed and responses analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Participants’ overall experience was captured by the core theme Recovery to Fitting in at School in which adolescents were faced with the need to return to school and thus, a demand to find their way to a successful school reintegration. Two intersecting themes assist in bringing forth an understanding of the return to school experience. Needing to Return to School outlines the challenges participants faced in their return to school. Finding Their Way describes the process of learning to cope with challenges encountered. Implications for both healthcare and school teams are discussed.