It is that time of year again when school and organized sports kick in to high gear. While these extra-curricular activities are of the highest priority for an adolescent and families, dare I say there is one thing of even greater importance: health and long-term well-being.
This time of the year finds me frustrated. We are barely into September and a couple of parents have – unknowingly- expressed that school, homework and sports take priority over their children’s spines. I don’t think for a moment this is in fact the case, but instead priorities become confused by this overwhelming time of year.
Most of the time parents ask, “How soon can I get my child in for an appointment?” And they have good reason, since it is not known exactly when the scoliosis may progress. However, at this time of year I also hear, “I want my child to learn the Schroth method, but it will have to wait until such-and-such a date…or when his or her sports season is over…or how about until Christmas vacation?”
As a parent, I understand what comes with the beginning of the school year, and the importance of education and sports commitments. All parents want our kids to attend the best schools, achieve the highest grades, and have our offspring find success on the athletic field, or find it at whatever their activities may be.
Yet, the problem with adolescent spines and scoliosis is this: There is much opportunity for growth, and with growth comes the risk of progression! Some curves do progress from month to month. One set of parents we spoke with who heeded the “watch and wait” advice were sorry when they learned their child’s curve progressed 15º during the “watch and wait” time period.
Waiting until “after Christmas” to learn the Schroth Method may be fine for the adult spine, but not the most prudent decision if your daughter/son is twelve, has a Cobb angle in the 15-25º range, a Risser sign of 0 or 1, and a bone age of eleven. Waiting could mean your child’s mild scoliosis may become a moderate scoliosis in no time. If you are reading this, it is likely you know that, as the Cobb angle measurement increases, so does the likelihood your child becomming a candidate for a brace.
We all know hindsight is 20/20, and with scoliosis, it is unlikely the clock can be turned back once progression has occurred.
Believe me, incorporating scoliosis exercise to control progression is better learned sooner rather than later. If you plan to pursue scoliosis exercise specific to your child’s curve, don’t procrastinate. Otherwise your child may be taking a lot more time off of school and sports for fittings with an orthotist, regular x-rays, psychological counseling (understandably, some kids have difficulties as a result of scoliosis during these tender years), orthopedic appointments, or maybe even spinal fusion surgery. This is not meant to be a scare tactic; simply, it is a possible outcome of procrastination.
A crucial additional benefit to Schroth3DC is teaching minor postural modifications to be used during daily activities that may help prevent curve progression. For example, which seat to choose on which side of the classroom, and exactly how to sit for a particular curve. Also, learning which hand it is preferable to raise, how to carry a backpack, and how to lie properly–and more.
Stopping progression and empowering your child to manage scoliosis and avoid surgery is our number one goal! A few hours weekly or a few days off of school and a couple of long weekends to learn the Schroth exercises appropriate to her/his curve provides your child, your entire family, with a fighting chance against scoliosis. It’s a very small trade-off compared to the alternatives if scoliosis progresses.
If this is your window of opportunity for an attempt to halt curve progression, seize it. Scoliosis may not wait until soccer season is over!