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What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an alteration of the curve of the spine away from the normal, with a lateral (side to side) curvature and rotation of the vertebra. For a diagnosis of Scoliosis, the curve must be greater than 10 degrees. At least 2-4% of children under the age of 16 will be diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, meaning there is no known reason for the scoliosis.

The traditional method was the ‘wait & see’ approach which may or may not include bracing depending on the degree of the curvature. This would then be followed by surgery if the curve progresses to 45 degrees and above.

The Schroth Method of treating Scoliosis is a Physiotherapeutic treatment that incorporates three-dimensional exercises that are specific to different curves depending on the diagnosis, Xrays and Cobb angle. The goals of these exercises are:

  • Correct posture and improve postural awareness
  • Stabilize the Spine & Stop Progression
  • Educate correct positions while doing activities of daily living
  • Improve breathing capacity
  • Improve body mechanics
  • Increase strength
  • Assist with pain reduction

For patients wearing a brace, studies have shown that bracing along with Schroth Physiotherapy is more effective than bracing alone.

Expert from Rigo and Grivas. “Rehabilitation schools for scoliosis” thematic series: describing the methods and results. scoliosis 2010 5:27.

“Idiopathic Scoliosis can be defined as a complex three-dimensional deformity of the spine and trunk, which appears in apparently healthy children, and can progress in relation to multiple factors during any rapid period of growth. Specific prevention of idiopathic scoliosis is not possible, because its ultimate cause is unknown; however, there is a high consensus about the necessity to prevent curve progression. For most scoliosis specialists, conservative management of idiopathic scoliosis is related to bracing, and its main objective is to prevent curve progression to a more or less arbitrary critical point, where surgical correction would be indicated. Scoliosis specific rehabilitation is more comprehensive than this, and has gained an increased interest during the past several years.

Generally speaking, the objectives of scoliosis rehabilitation are to maintain function, and prevent symptoms in the short and long-term. More specifically, scoliosis rehabilitation’s goal is to prevent curve progression, while trying to correct the spinal and trunk deformity in the long term, and to prevent the health related quality of life from deteriorating, while trying to improve it. Scoliosis Rehabilitation follows a model including:

  1. Correct diagnosis and evaluation of the patient to make a treatment decision oriented to the patient.
  2. Treatment is based on: observation (with a rational use of X-rays), education, specific physical exercises, and bracing.
  3.  Quality control and evaluation of the results.

Parents, if you notice your child’s head is tilted to one side, or there is prominence on their back, their shoulders are not level, a shoulder blade is higher than the opposite one, leans to one side, or their waist is uneven, a visit to the Family Physician or a Specialist will help with further examination and / or diagnosis. Here at Cambridge Physio, we specalize in Scoliosis Rehab using the Schroth Method. If you suspect any of the above characteristics, come in or call to book an assessment with the Physiotherapist.

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