Guidelines for Choosing a Conservative Care Scoliosis Practitioner:
You’re considering an alternative treatment for scoliosis since the traditional medical response does not offer a way for dealing with scoliosis that you find acceptable. You feel like you are alone, but you are not. Everyday scoliosis patients research alternative treatments for scoliosis online.
If you are an adult, you may just be beginning to experience symptoms and are pretty sure they are related to your scoliosis. You may have pain, or a sub-standard quality of life as a result of scoliosis. Maybe you are doing fine, but are worried about progression as you age.
Perhaps you are the parent of an adolescent just diagnosed, and you don’t like the idea of “watching and waiting.” Maybe your child is already in a brace, but having difficulty wearing it, or his/her curve has just crossed the 40º measurement and the threat of surgery looms. You want to do something, but what, and who can you trust?
Like so many things in life, knowing who to trust is a judgement call. In the case of the Schroth Method in the US, there are very few practitioners. How can you determine who will do the best job for you and your family? We’ve assembled this information based on our standards for care.
First, call the Dr. or therapist and have a conversation. We welcome calls from patients and parents. We can’t always help, but we will do everything in our power to try. If you aren’t too far, schedule an appointment. What is your feeling? Is the office a factory? Is the practitioner on site at all times? Does the practitioner teach you a few moves then turn over instruction to someone else? If so, is that person certified in the technique? Are all explanations understandable? Does the practitioner verify that you truly understand? Does the practitioner seem like “an operator?” Do you get the feeling they have yours, or your child’s, best interest at heart? If you do not get the right feeling, you may want to continue the search. Ask for references.
Beyond instinct, below are some guidelines and considerations to help you through the decision making process. Non-surgical care for scoliosis is relatively uncharted territory. There are many questions to be answered.
Schroth Specific Questions
- Is your Schroth practitioner on Christa Lehnert-Schroth’s list of approved practitioners?
This will not guarantee the quality of practitioner, but it is a starting point.
- Are mobilizations included?
With the Schroth Method, mobilizations, both active and passive, are used to reduce the asymmetric loading and to liberate the hypo-mobile joints. Mobilizations help improve function by creating optimal conditions for the Schroth 3-D exercise program.
- Does the practitioner instruct in activities of daily living?
These load altering modifications are another piece of the puzzle that can make a difference in whether a curve is halted or progresses.
- Schroth exercise/breathing protocols are not one size fits all. Each curve pattern has a Schroth classification.
Your exercises will depend on your classification and other factors. Moreover, exercises taught are not just repetitive movements, but systematic movements with (de)rotational breathing in an effort to counteract the vicious cycle (Stokes, 1996). If you are pursuing a form of scoliosis exercise other than Schroth, ask the practitioner how the particular movements counteract this effect.
Considerations For All Non-Surgical Scoliosis Practitioners:
- Does your practitioner want to take your x-rays, or can they be taken independently?
- Is a thorough x-ray interpretation and discussion provided?
- Does your scoliosis practitioner allow ample time for appointments?
- Does the practitioner provide you with a detailed anatomy lesson concerning your unique scoliosis?
This is important since scoliosis is curve-pattern specific to each individual. A thorough understanding of your unique physiology and spinal anatomy is required. Will all of your questions be answered before moving forward?
- What are the scoliosis exercises for your specific curve and how does each exercise address the convexity and concavity of your curve(s)?
Expect an explanation of why you are performing each specific exercise and how it relates to your particular curve pattern. Does the response make sense considering everything you know concerning your anatomy, your curve? Does the practitioner speak in plain language, or are explanations provided in technical jargon so you are left wondering.
- While learning the exercises, does the practitioner spend time with you individually to insure you are performing each and every exercise properly? Does he/she make sure you have mastered each exercise prescribed and that your form is exactly right?
Individual attention guarantees exercises are performed optimally for maximum benefit. If you aren’t going to get full benefit, why bother?
- When the program is complete, will you be confident of each scoliosis exercise and movement?
- Does the practitioner have a regular place of business?
- Does the practitioner provide explicit, detailed written instructions for each specific exercise?
We provide a custom made DVD of each scoliosis patient performing his/her own curve-pattern specific Schroth exercises correctly to use as a reference when practicing at home. Even with our intensive program, a person will occasionally forget a move or two. Patients tell us they appreciate this powerful tool.
Scoliosis Exercise Equipment:
- What equipment will you need to maintain the program at home?
Schroth requires very little in the way of extra equipment. What is required, is extremely inexpensive. We will guide you, or may even have some of this simple equipment available for you, so you can get started as soon as you get home. Some patients like to order or build those bars seen in some of the photos on our site. They are not absolutely necessary. If you decide you want them, we have detailed drawings available for patients or can refer you to our carpenter.
*The Schroth Method does not require any special chairs or costly equipment.
Conservative Care and Scoliosis Bracing:
*Schroth certification does not include bracing.
- Is your practitioner affiliated with only one particular brace? Each scoliosis is unique. If so, why?
- If a practitioner recommends a brace and exercise – do the objectives of the brace match the objectives of the scoliosis exercise program you will learn? Biomechanically, the objectives must match.
Schroth exercise principles are aligned with the Cheneau Light, Rigo System Cheneau and Gensingen braces, all developed in Europe by skilled scoliosis practitioners. At Scoliosis 3DC℠ we have also had patients experience promising results while wearing the Boston Brace and the Charleston Bending Brace. The SpineCor® brace is not, in our opinion or experience, congruent with the principles of the Schroth Method. This claim is also stated in clear language on the FAQ page of the SpineCor® website.
- If the practitioner is fitting you, or others, for a brace, are they a certified orthotist, CO?
- Does your practitioner absolutely, or never, recommend bracing?
Again, patient scenarios are all different. Scoliosis is a dynamic condition affecting all age groups. Sometimes, bracing is absolutely necessary. Other times, maybe not. Many times, bracing -in conjunction with Schroth- is the best approach.
- Is your practitioner knowledgeable about all types of braces? Ask about his/her experiences with different types of braces.
- Who does the practitioner recommend bracing for? Who do they refer to for bracing? What is the nature of the relationship?
When it comes to bracing for Scoliosis, you have the right to question and be concerned about the fit of a scoliosis brace. An improperly fit brace may do more harm than good.
After Your Scoliosis Program:
- What can you expect?
At Scoliosis 3DC℠ we provide a complete scoliosis binder including a detailed explanation of your particular Schroth exercises, mobilizations, physiologic® and 3-D Made Easy® movements, a custom made DVD to use as a reference at home, and results from your examination upon entering the program and at the time of completion. We will continue to do this for follow-up visits post-program. Our binder includes a new and improved scoliosis journal to keep detailed records of your unique scoliosis over the years. We stay in touch by email and/or phone, and since we feel it is important, your first follow-up visit is now included in the cost of the full program.
- About Results:
After any non-surgical scoliosis program: insist on independent xrays. To evaluate scoliosis properly, x-rays should be of the full spine.
DO NOT ALLOW A SCOLIOSIS PRACTITIONER TO EXERCISE YOU EXTENSIVELY, THEN X-RAY IMMEDIATELY AND DECLARE A SIGNIFICANT CORRECTION. This method is suspect and is unfortunately, a growing practice. With a “true” correction, x-rays can be taken a couple of weeks later.
With the Schroth Method, halting curve progression is one of many goals. Some hardworking adolescents have achieved curve reduction. Of course, we are thrilled with those incredible results, but we make no guarantees regarding correction. If a practitioner guarantees correction, be wary.
At Scoliosis 3DC℠, our goal is to maximize your potential outcome. We do this by providing a comprehensive Schroth program and making sure you are armed with all the necessary information and tools for success. We hope this discussion provides insight and helps guide you down the right road in your journey for successful scoliosis management.