Why are so many children with Scoliosis ‘missed’?

Why are so many children with Scoliosis ‘missed’?

By Rosemary Marchese (Physiotherapist, Schroth and SEAS methods for Scoliosis)

In my daily encounters with scoliosis patients, rarely is there a day without frustration. Not frustration because the children don’t work hard. Most of them work so hard! Committing to Schroth and other scoliosis specific physiotherapy is a commitment, I get that. But they do it! No, I get frustrated when the diagnosis or referral to scoliosis specific therapy is made late and the curves are large. Nothing frustrates me more when a curve was recognised years before but the families were not told that there is an option other than ‘wait and see’. 

Why is early diagnosis of scoliosis important?

Early diagnosis of scoliosis is important because smaller curves may require minimal intervention, but if they are monitored, or some Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises (PSSE) in the form of Schroth method or other relevant methods, the patient can be empowered to be part of the journey to help look after their own back too. Also, in some cases, where the curve is beyond a certain threshold, usually 25 degrees, bracing can also be implemented to help prevent the curve progressing to surgery. 

While the child is young, and the curves are small, three is a higher chance that the curve can be controlled. Once curves start getting larger, especially if the child is young, the risks of progression increase. 

If a person enters adulthood with a curve beyond 45-50 degrees, the chances of progression are very high. We want to try to keep these curves below these surgical thresholds whenever possible. That is not to say I am ‘anti-surgery’. In fact, I often tell my patients that we are so fortunate to live in a country where surgical options are available for patients if they need them. I will send my patients for orthopaedic opinion, each and every time. This is not about being a hero or claiming to be able to ‘cure’ scoliosis. There is no cure. But all big curves start small, and catching them earlier gives us all a better chance of success. If anything, it gives the families options, before there is only one option – surgery. 

Who provides Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises, such as Schroth?

PSSE, for example Schroth method, are scoliosis specific exercises provided by physiotherapists trained specifically in these methods. I have travelled overseas to be trained in this method. I decided to go ahead and do this after a saw a child with scoliosis ‘wait and see’ and that ‘wait and see’ approach resulted in progression of her curve over a 6 month period. There was no Schroth option given to her at that stage. I found the SOSORT guidelines. SOSORT stands for the International Society of Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment. I am an actively involved member of this organisation. Every day, the members of this organisation live and breathe scoliosis. 

Let’s spread the word! 

We can all help! It would be great if more Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Osteopaths, as well as General Practitioners, were aware that there are people trained in scoliosis specific therapy! Our upcoming seminars are directed specifically at screening and assessment for health and medical professionals that want an update in this area. If you are a medical or allied health professional, or are a patient or family member of someone with scoliosis, please contact us to find out the details of our upcoming seminar. We can also organise in-house seminars and workshops to train entire teams and are willing to travel to spread this message!  

Please call (02) 8914 0508 or email info@schrothscoliosisphysio.com.au 


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