Physical Therapy in Managing Scoliosis

By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN

When I was first diagnosed with scoliosis as a young teenager, chiropractic “exercises” were initially prescribed for me, in lieu of a brace or other more traditional care. This was largely because my mother was a long time chiropractic patient and fan of this alternative medicine practice. I remember the exercises basically as variations of bending at the waist. I have nothing against chiropractic medicine, but the exercises did not work and a few years later I ended up undergoing Harrington Rod surgery to correct my much more severe curvature. The exercise regimen I received after the surgery by my physical therapist, however, was incredibly effective in strengthening the muscles around my new hardware and improving my flexibility.

The “surgery vs. brace vs. other” treatment solutions for scoliosis have been debated for several decades. Physical therapists and traveling physical therapists may also find themselves involved in that debate. A physical therapy method called the “Schroth Method,” developed in Germany during the 1960’s, is a sequence of targeted exercises and posture intended to slow or halt the curvature of the spine caused by scoliosis. The physical therapist works with the patient while they are sitting, lying down and hanging from a bar. The idea is apparently to reprogram the body’s natural symmetry and ultimately reduce pain, improve posture and prevent the need for surgery.

You may guess correctly that I personally have my doubts about the effectiveness of procedures like this. However, as physical therapists and traveling physical therapists I would like to hear from you and get your take on such “alternative” scoliosis treatments.

Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.

Author: Allied Travel Careers

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