Did you see the Scoliosis SOS team on TV earlier this week?

A Matter of Life and Debt is a BBC One documentary series that focuses on credit unions, responsible moneylenders, and the people whose lives have been transformed by ethical loans.

The third episode of A Matter of Life and Debt‘s current series aired on Wednesday (21 August 2019), and it featured a segment about our Clinic Principal Erika Maude and the loan that helped her to set up the Scoliosis SOS Clinic back in 2006.

Having been let down by a high-street bank, Erika instead sought assistance from Foundation East, a responsible lender that provides finance and support for businesses. They approved Scoliosis SOS for a loan of £50,000 – a sum that, thanks to the clinic’s instant success, was repaid within just nine months!

If you missed our appearance on A Matter of Life and Debt, don’t worry – you can watch it below!

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The Scoliosis SOS Clinic in Birmingham is based right in the heart of the city centre, so if you’re staying nearby during your treatment, there are lots of attractions to be seen!

For shopaholics…

Our clinic is located in Birmingham’s Great Western Arcade (pictured below). Originally built in 1877 as a tunnel spanning the rail line between Snow Hill and Moor Street stations, the arcade is now home to independent retailers and is often described as a ‘home of hidden gems’. The arcade is bursting with character and Victorian charm.

Great Western Arcade in Birmingham Photo from Wikimedia Commons

We also have The Bullring and Grand Central (only 0.4 miles from the Scoliosis SOS Clinic), which have linked up to highlight Birmingham as one of the ultimate UK shopping destinations. With over 200 shops between the two – including Selfridges, John Lewis and Debenhams – you can shop until you drop!

For a family day out…

Thinktank, Birmingham’s science museum, is an attraction not to be missed. Located within the Millennium Point building (only 0.6 miles from our Scoliosis SOS Clinic), Thinktank is your opportunity to experience hands-on exhibits and historical collections that explore the science of the world around us. There’s something for everyone to see and enjoy – highlights include the science garden, the planetarium and an exciting programme of events and activities. You can also see how your favourite confectionery is made at Cadbury World. Explore the history behind Cadbury chocolate and watch the chocolatiers reveal the secrets of traditional chocolate making. You’ll even have the chance to enjoy some of your favourite Cadbury treats along the way. This attraction is only a short train journey from Birmingham New Street station.

Photo by Elliott Brown

Other museums in Birmingham include:

Take in a show…

Located just 0.6 miles from our scoliosis clinic, the Birmingham Hippodrome is Birmingham’s flagship theatre. Shows not to be missed in 2020 include the Nutcracker ballet, Mamma Mia! and Les Misérables. More seats are sold at the Hippodrome each year than by any other British theatre, including those in London’s West End!

Photo by Elliott Brown

Other places to take in a show:

Off the beaten track…

Just ten minutes from The Bullring and Grand Central, Digbeth is Birmingham’s bohemian district. Here you’ll find the Custard Factory, a creative hub that’s home to many independent shops, cafés, bars, restaurants and the Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen.

Photo by Sharon VanderKaay

Digbeth is full of character, and there’s plenty to see and do, from street art to street food at the Digbeth Dining Club‘s weekly food and drink festival. There’s also Birmingham’s oldest pub, The Old Crown, which first opened in 1368.

Getting to and from the clinic

Our Birmingham clinic is located within easy walking distance of three train stations:

Scoliosis SOS Birmingham Travel Map

  • Snow Hill Railway Station is 0.1 miles away (2 minute walk)
  • Birmingham New Street is 0.3 miles away (6 minute walk)
  • Birmingham Moor Street is 0.4 miles away (7 minute walk)
For information on bus services that run to and from Birmingham city centre, visit nxbus.co.uk.

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Highlights of 2019

Happy new year! 2019 was a truly momentous time for the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, so before we dive into the new decade, we thought we’d take a moment to look back at some of the highlights of the past 12 months:
  • New clinics in Birmingham and Bristol! In November 2019, we opened two new scoliosis treatment centres in Birmingham and Bristol, UK. This means that, counting our flagship clinic in London, we now have 3 locations in total – and we’re planning to open more in the near future!
  • Scoliosis SOS on BBC One! Back in August, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic was featured on BBC One’s A Matter of Life and Debt. The programme told the story of our founder, Erika Maude, and how she was able to set up the clinic with the financial assistance of responsible lenders Foundation East. If you missed A Matter of Life and Debt, don’t worry – here’s the clip:

  • SOSORT Annual Meeting in San Francisco! In April 2019, several members of the Scoliosis SOS team crossed the Atlantic to attend the 14th annual SOSORT conference in San Francisco, USA. The event included a number of enlightening talks, including a presentation from our own Erika Maude on the cost-effectiveness of scoliosis-specific exercise programmes. Watch Erika’s presentation here.

Darren Lui with Scoliosis SOS team

  • A visit from an orthopaedic spinal surgeon! In February 2019, orthopaedic specialist Mr Darren Lui (pictured above centre) came to our London clinic to talk to our therapists and discuss the value of physiotherapy in treating scoliosis patients. Read more about his visit here.
And if you think that’s impressive, just wait! We’ve got lots of big things in store for 2020 – be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any news.

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The Scoliosis SOS Clinic was founded in 2006 by our Clinic Principal, Erika Maude. Erika opened the clinic because she herself had suffered from scoliosis since childhood and wanted to offer people an alternative to spinal fusion surgery. Here, Erika answers some questions about her personal experience with scoliosis and her future plans for the clinic.

Scoliosis SOS Clinic founder Erika Maude

Can you tell us a bit about your experience with scoliosis?

My mother first noticed that something was wrong with my back when I was bending over one day. She took me along to our GP, who diagnosed me as having AIS (adolescent idiopathic scoliosis) but told us not to worry as I would likely “grow out of it”. Over the coming months, this didn’t happen, and after countless appointments back with the GP she finally convinced him that my condition was getting worse and to refer me to see an orthopaedic consultant. The orthopaedic specialist took one look at my 34-degree curvature on an X-ray and pronounced me an immediate case for spinal fusion surgery. I eventually persuaded him to let me try the alternative: a Boston brace (hard plastic corset), worn for 23 hours per day between my 13th and 15th birthdays. Unfortunately this didn’t work, and after 2 years my curve had progressed to 42 degrees. My consultant warned me that if I didn’t have surgery, I’d end up in a wheelchair.  

What inspired you to set up the Scoliosis SOS clinic?

After that fatalistic prognosis from my orthopaedic consultant, my family set about finding an alternative, which eventually lead us to a tiny clinic in Spain where I went to receive treatment in 2003. My inspiration to open the clinic came from a desire to keep people from having to go through the experience I had, and also to help the people who are failed by the lack of options available through the NHS. It is so empowering to see patients of all ages take control of their condition and care, and it’s wonderful that we’ve been able to help so many people from all over the world.  

What advice would you give someone who has just been diagnosed with scoliosis?

Definitely act promptly! Never underestimate how aggressive scoliosis can be, particularly in children. My friend recently diagnosed her granddaughter with the help of our screening video (see below), which I’d shared on my Facebook page. It was great to see the family act so quickly to get her referred for an X-ray and get started with an exercise programme while they waited for an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist.

With adults it’s a little different, but depending on one’s lifestyle, symptoms can still develop or worsen rapidly – that’s often what has caused the condition to be noticed in the first place. Don’t suffer in silence; there are lots of support groups and sympathetic people you can talk to. Our patient care co-ordinators enjoy answering questions and offering advice to patients and their families following a recent diagnosis or hospital appointment.  

What are your goals for the clinic over the next year?

We are in the process of developing regional clinics to make treatment more accessible to people across the UK. Our first locations in Birmingham and Bristol opened last month, and we’re planning to add further locations in early 2020.  

What do you get up to when you’re not working?

I love being active, so after work, I’m often to be found at Pineapple Dance Studios learning a new routine – it’s a great way to forget the stresses of the day and really switch off. Such a diverse group of people attend my class, from semi-professional dancers to senior partners of City law firms; it’s a brilliant way to socialise and keep fit at the same time. When I get a bit longer out of the office, I enjoy getting out on the water. A couple of years ago I sailed across the Atlantic, but usually, it is more coastal cruising, although recently I’ve really got into learning about celestial navigation…

Erika on a boat

If, like Erika, you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis and it’s causing you distress, be sure to explore our exercise-based scoliosis treatment courses.

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