Hillier, Maureen

Advisor Department

Nursing, College of




Spondylolisthesis; Spinal; Disorder; Vertebra; Fusion


Spondylolisthesis is a rare and unknown disorder to many. The anatomical perplexity beneath its diagnosis is extensive yet crucial to truly understanding this unique anomaly. As a condition that is too often undistinguished and unexplained to countless, it warrants and demands undisputed attention. Spondylolisthesis is an atypical spinal disorder characterized by one vertebra sliding forward in position over the vertebra below it (Rodts, 2017). The victim of this condition faces excruciating pain radiating throughout one’s lower back and frequently into the lower extremities. In cases of increased severity, individuals pursue a variety of treatment modalities ranging from conservative measures such as rest and physical therapy to extensive surgical procedures including spinal fusion.

From an outsider’s perspective, one might ask why investigate and study such a rare and random topic? But as a twenty-one-year-old female diagnosed with this exact disease at the age of sixteen, this disorder holds extreme significance and correspondence to my own health hardships. Within the last five years, my personal battle with the neuropathic pain has worsened, forcing me to explore focused research to determine future decisions in relation to my own case of spondylolisthesis. Unfortunately, I found an overall lack of evidence-based research on this uncommon spinal disorder. In order to be better equipped in my knowledge of the disease and its overall effects on the human body, I completed numerous hours of observation at the Boston Children’s Hospital Micheli Center in Waltham, Massachusetts to determine injury prevention methods and proper body mechanic techniques to delay the worsening of spinal disorder symptoms. I also spent time shadowing on an orthopedic unit at Boston Children’s Hospital where they encounter numerous post-operative spinal fusion patients.

With the findings from my interdisciplinary collaboration with health care professionals and specialists, I was able to reflect on the prevention methods and current treatment modalities that could be used for an individual at risk or coping with spondylolisthesis, such as myself. As a senior nursing major at the University of Rhode Island, my goal is to utilize the information that I have gained in not only my own personal life but also in my future nursing career as I cross paths with individuals who face spondylolisthesis and similar spinal disorders.