Scoliosis Exercise and Rehabilitation

Specific Exercise and Physical therapy

Specific scoliosis exercise and physical therapy programs and can play an important role in scoliosis treatment. Traditionally some had had the opinion that “physiotherapy and exercise does not work for scoliosis”.  In some respects this is true, general physiotherapy, exercises or programs of Pilates and Yoga have been shown not to stop scoliosis progression of scoliosis.  These treatments may however help things such as pain or flexibility.

In Europe specific scoliosis exercise and rehabilitation programs, have been developed that have been shown to stop and slow progression of scoliosis in cases where the curve of the scoliosis is less than 25 degrees and in some cases in combination with bracing. The program with the most supporting research is the Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis also known as SEAS.

Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis(SEAS)

SEAS is an “evidenced based” Scoliosis rehabilitation program. Evidence based means that research has been carried out that support the use of this treatment. There are currently 146 research papers that have been published on the SEAS approach making it the most researched exercise physical therapy program for scoliosis. The clinicians at the Sydney Scoliosis Clinic are Advanced Certified in the SEAS approach and offer this treatment as part of our treatment approach.

 

How does SEAS work?

These approaches are very specific and not all non-surgical spinal treatment help scoliosis.

For example in a small adolescent idiopathic curve i.e. less than 20 degrees where there is a family history of scoliosis, a scoliosis specific exercise program may be the most suitable initial treatment. Another example can be when a curve is non progressive i.e. in late adolescents or middle age. With scoliosis specific exercise alone it maybe be possible to help improve posture, manage pain and stabilise the spine.

In cases of a progressive idiopathic scoliosis where the curve is greater than 20 degrees, scoliosis specific exercise  is usually used in conjunction with brace treatments.

Research has shown that when scoliosis specific exercise has been used in conjunction with bracing it has improved the results of hard bracing. In this case the exercise helps to strengthen the muscles being weakened by the brace and keep the spine flexible. When physical therapy is not used with hard bracing any correction achieved during the time of bracing is usually lost within 24 months of finishing brace treatment.

It is important to understand that only specialised exercise and rehabilitation programs specifically designed to treat scoliosis have been shown to make improvements.