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I have been fortunate to work with some inspiring young people with scoliosis. Having success with these tough cases caused me to rethink and challenge some conventional beliefs about scoliosis. I’m confident that I have an effective, flexible approach that can work for patients of any age.
Our treatment program is the only one in the region that treats scoliosis as not just a structural problem, but a muscle and nerve development problem. We view the abnormal curves as a sign that the brain's centers for motion and position processing are lagging developmentally. We have unique examination and treatment tools to identify and improve these developmental lags while simultaneously addressing the structural asymmetry.
We have partnered with Tessah Joseph, a certified Pilates instructor who has developed methods for adapting these effective exercises to the scoliotic spine. She helps kids and adults work into better balance, body awareness, flexibility, and spinal stability. You can read more about Tessah Joseph here.
A patient’s entry into this treatment program begins with thorough evaluation. Every scoliosis is unique, and patients rarely know anything about their particular pattern of curvature. There’s more to it than just angles! There’s degrees of rotation, there may be vertebrae that are the wrong shape, legs that are different lengths, and so on. Knowing the full picture is crucial to making the right decisions about keeping your spine as healthy as possible for the long term. This video provides all the information you need about what x-rays are needed in order to fully evaluate a scoliosis:
I've had many families bring their kids to me after having seen a long line of orthopedists and pediatricians, only to tell me that my evaluation was much more thorough than anyone else's.
In addition to the structural evaluation, we evaluate balance, muscle activation, neurological development, and position sense. We look for areas for improvement. We teach exercises that will target each patient's unique needs. Our patients of all ages describe these exercises as easy and very effective. There is no downside to improved body awareness!
Once these functions are improved, we begin muscle development. We strengthen the hips, shoulders, and trunk to support the spine.
Finally, we use adjustments to get the best alignment that we can. Adjusting a spine with scoliosis is different than adjusting a normal spine! The angles are different and each patient has their own unique shape. The amount and type of adjustments are tailored to each patient's situation and the amount of pain they experience.
Video of Dr. Russ providing treatment for an adult with scoliosis:
Treatment sessions focus on specific exercises for neurological and muscle development. Home exercises are designed to support the work that we do in our sessions, and can be done in about half an hour or less, depending on the patient.
It’s best to start treating scoliosis early. Treatments for kids are painless and fun. We try to keep the kids moving and engaged with their exercises. Our goals are to stop—or even reverse—the progression of scoliosis in kids and teens.
For adults the therapy is similar, but once the spine is mature, we might not be able to reverse the curves. However, we can improve strength, proprioception, and posture, and these improvements have an impact on pain and quality of life.
If you have scoliosis, or a child with scoliosis, or know a family that does, please ask them to call me or send me an email. I would be happy to talk with them about their situation and determine if they might benefit from our program.
If you would like any more information about this exciting program, get in touch!