Scoliosis Specific Treatment
Conservative Scoliosis Treatment
Over my 8 years as a Physical Therapist, I have had the opportunity of working with patients of all ages, and a wide range of conditions. It has been a huge blessing to be part of the outpatient orthopedic setting for the majority of my career, and it has offered perspective on many different orthopedic problems.
When I was fresh out of school, I remember my first scoliosis patient. She was a teenager who was being braced at the time, and her mother was looking for a therapist who was certified in the Schroth Method of treatment of her deformity. I had never heard of this method and it began to pique my interest. At that time, I was fresh out of school, trying to learn a new job, and had just become the clinic director. On top of that, I learned the Schroth Method was only taught in Spain or Germany, and I did not have the funds to go get trained.
Through the next 7 years, I continued to learn the art of Physical Therapy, but in the back of my mind, I continued to have a desire to conservatively treat the scoliotic spine. During that time, I had a nephew diagnosed with scoliosis due to 2 hemi-vertebrae, as well as a neighbor who was being braced due to significant progression of his curve. With this exposure again to scoliosis, I started to look into the Schroth Method more seriously.
Over the last year, the neighbor with scoliosis ended up having surgery to stabilize and reduce his curve. Watching his parents struggle with this decision, and watching the pain he was in following the surgery, I decided there needed to be a conservative option prior to such an invasive procedure. I was already thinking of starting my own outpatient practice, and decided to add Schroth Scoliosis treatment to my new practice.
In February of 2015, I took a trip to Wisconsin to be certified by Barcelona Scoliosis Physical Therapy School in treatment using the Schroth Method. It was an amazing course, and really opened my eyes to what can be done conservatively for this condition. This method is not an “alternative medicine” technique, but it is a way to do something about the scoliotic curve, rather than just “wait and see”, which has typically been the standard of care in the US. It can, and should be done in conjunction with bracing, if bracing is indicated, to achieve optimal outcomes. Some patients treated with the Schroth Method will still go on to need surgery to halt the progression of their curve, but the hope is to give them the best chance at slowing or halting the progression conservatively. Scoliosis specific exercise can also help to decrease pain associated with the curve and can improve appearance.
Schroth therapy is based on movements and exercises specific to the person’s individual curve, and is tailored to each patient. It requires hard work, concentration, and many hours to learn, but can provide some great results. Recently, 2 research articles have shown the efficacy of this treatment method with randomized controlled trials, and I expect there to be more in the near future. (Kuru et al, Monticone et al)
With the opening of our clinic in Lehi, UT, I am hoping to begin using this technique to benefit those wanting to do something for their curve, rather than just waiting to see if it progresses. If you, or someone you know, is dealing with scoliosis, contact us for a free screening and further explanation of your options. Stay tuned for more info on the Schroth Method.
David D. Butler, DPT, OCS
Kuru, Tuğba, et al. “The efficacy of three-dimensional Schroth exercises in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: A randomised controlled clinical trial.” Clinical rehabilitation (2015): 0269215515575745.
Monticone, Marco, et al. “Active self-correction and task-oriented exercises reduce spinal deformity and improve quality of life in subjects with mild adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Results of a randomised controlled trial.”European Spine Journal 23.6 (2014): 1204-1214.