Schroth Method – Preventing Progression

The Schroth Method offers conservative management of idiopathic scoliosis in the form of scoliosis specific physical exercises – the main goal being the prevention of curve progression. Scoliosis specific physical exercises counter the vicious cycle by restraining deforming forces and establishing a ‘virtuous cycle’, not only during corrective exercises but also in activities of daily living.

Scoliosis specific physical exercises have been underestimated as a form of conservative management of idiopathic scoliosis. The reasons for this relate to little evidence published in medical journals which has resulted from a lack of research, and a lack interest in the medical profession generally. To date scoliosis specific physical exercises have been considered to be an ‘alternative medicine’.

The following images included in this post, with the consent of the patient and her parents, demonstrate the effectiveness of Schroth Method. In September 2011 the patient, 14 years of age, presented with a scoliosis – 38 degrees in the left lumbar (lower) spine and 25 degrees in the thoracic (upper) spine, as confirmed by the Cobb Angle measurement taken from current x-rays.

The primary curve therefore being in the lumbar spine and the secondary, compensatory curve in the thoracic spine. Other clinical characteristics of her scoliosis included a prominent right hip, trunk shifted to the left, and weight bearing through the left leg. There was also a hyper-lordosis in her lower back.

Over an 18 week period attending our Scoliosis Therapy Centre once a week (2.5 hours per visit), accompanied always by one of her parents, she performed Schroth Method scoliosis specific  exercises. By January 2012 there was a remarkable improvement in her posture, core strength, and most importantly, her self esteem.

Schroth Method scoliosis specific exercises adhere to Society on Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment (SOSORT) 2016 Guidelines, which advocate the following features as standard in the rehabilitation of scoliosis patients:

  • auto-correction in 3D
  • training in activities of daily living
  • stabilizing the corrected posture
  • and patient education

In March 2016, the results of a study, published in the journal Physical Therapy Science, on the effectiveness of the Schroth Method highlights the significant role scoliosis specific exercises have in the rehabilitation of scoliosis patients. The patients in this study all had thoracic curves of 40 degrees which were progressing, putting them at risk of surgery.

Furthermore, the results of a preliminary study published in October 2017 showed that Schroth scoliosis specific exercises, when performed during bracing, can further improve curve reduction for idiopathic scoliosis patients with high-risk curves, compared to bracing alone.

To achieve best possible outcomes, comprehensive conservative management of Idiopathic Scoliosis requires a team approach composed of an Orthopaedic Surgeon, Orthotist, Therapist, and if required, a psychologist.

The Schroth Method can make a significant contribution to the rehabilitation of scoliosis patients. The overall objective of the Schroth Method is to slow down or stop the progression of scoliosis in order to avoid the necessity of surgery. Other important objectives include: pain relief; restoring normal posture; and improving lung capacity and rib mobilization through corrective breathing.

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