The World Wide Web makes it relatively easy to find factual information about scoliosis, its symptoms, and the available treatment options. But fictional tales about people with scoliosis are a little harder to find.

Today (11 June) is Empathy Day, and with the accompanying #ReadForEmpathy campaign, the organisers are hoping to highlight the power of stories to help us understand each other's lived experiences. In that spirit, then, here's our all-ages guide to stories about scoliosis and what it's like to live with a curved spine:

 

Scoliosis Books for Children

Ideal for younger readers, these books can be a great aid for parents who are looking to help their young children understand scoliosis and the effects it can have on one's body. Better still, they also help to highlight the fact that a scoliosis diagnosis isn’t the end of the world, and that courage and perseverance can help to overcome even the biggest obstacles.

Being Grace Scoliosis Story

Being Grace by June Hyjek

Ideal for educating young children about the ins and outs of scoliosis, Being Grace follows the story of a Grace, a young giraffe who has a curved neck.

As in the Christmas story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, Grace the Giraffe is singled out and ridiculed for being different. Despite this, Grace's crooked neck allows her to do things the other giraffes can't.

Grace ultimately learns to be happy in her own skin, accept her differences, and appreciate the way they make her unique. The author June Hyjek has scoliosis herself, adding authenticity to the story and its message.

View on Goodreads >>

 

The Bravest Thing

The Bravest Thing by Donna Jo Napoli

The Bravest Thing centres around pet-loving 10-year-old Laurel and her pet rabbit. When the rabbit has babies, the rabbit's unwillingness to feed her offspring leaves Laurel (who has scoliosis) to take the lead and keep them healthy herself.

The book focuses on optimism in the face of adversity, providing a good introduction to the effects of scoliosis for children.

View on Goodreads >>

 

S on My Back scoliosis book

There's an S on My Back by Mary Mahony

Mary Mahony’s 1999 book There's an S on My Back is a great way to educate pre-adolescent readers about the implications of scoliosis while also reinforcing hope, instilling courage, and dispelling anxiety.

Written as a first-person narrative from the perspective of lead character Maisey MacGuire, There's an S... provides children with an enlightening insight into scoliosis, from diagnosis to treatment, including brace fitting and the social situations around it.

View on Goodreads >>

 

Scoliosis Books for Older Kids & Teens

For older children who have just entered their teenage years (or soon will), the following books provide a more mature analysis of scoliosis while still effectively maintaining engagement in younger readers. Centred around early adolescent characters, these books are a great way to improve a child's knowledge of scoliosis while still capturing their imagination.

Abby's Twin

Abby's Twin by Ann M. Martin

Part of the Baby-Sitters Club series, Abby's Twin tells the story of twin sisters Abby and Anna. Anna is diagnosed with scoliosis after a routine school screening, and the twins are left to come to grips with the revelation in their own way, with Abby's excessive attempts to comfort her sister ultimately leading to a falling out.

Bridging the gap between children's literature and teen reading, Abby's Twin is a good introduction to scoliosis for young teens and pre-adolescents, highlighting the importance of communication and family.

View on Goodreads >>

 

Braced scoliosis book

Braced by Alyson Gerber

Braced is the debut novel from Alyson Gerber (who has scoliosis herself). It tells the tale of Rachel Brooks, a 7th-grade student with a place on the school soccer team, a crush on a boy named Tate, and a great year ahead of her...until she's told that she has to wear a scoliosis brace for 23 hours a day.

Told from an authentic and honest perspective, this heartfelt story recounts the trials and tribulations of a maturing teen coping with scoliosis, with great underlying messages of compassion and triumph over adversity.

Published in 2017, Braced came as a welcome modern addition to the realm of scoliosis fiction, and it has been repeatedly praised online as a great read for teens and young adults alike.

View on Goodreads >>

 

Dear Isaac Newton Book

Dear Isaac Newton, You're Ruining My Life by Rachel Hruza

Another recent publication to add to the growing list of scoliosis novels, Dear Isaac Newton... was originally published in early 2018 and follows the story of Truth Trendon, a 12-year-old with scoliosis.

The main protagonist in this scoliosis story aims to keep her scoliosis a secret from her classmates. Of course, the lies soon start to snowball, and disaster looms...

Touching and quick-witted, this book is full of adolescent angst and important life lessons, with the scoliosis theme prevalent throughout. Another great read for early teens.

View on Goodreads >>

 

Young Adult Books About Scoliosis

These books focus on a variety of themes and plotlines, and while they are predominantly aimed at young adults, they are just as suitable for those that fall outside of that category, providing a good literary experience for adults too - particularly those with an interest in scoliosis.

Deenie

Deenie by Judy Blume

Perhaps the most famous book on this list, Deenie is considered somewhat of a cult classic, achieving both critical acclaim and controversy.

First published back in 1973, Deenie has seen its fair share of controversy, primarily due to its sexual references. As a result, Deenie has been banned in countless schools, even landing on the American Library Association's list of the '100 Most Frequently-Challenged Books' in the 1990s.

However, this was nothing new for author Judy Blume, who has had numerous other books on the same list over the years. And none of this has impacted the book's popularity; Deenie is still held in high regard and frequently cited as a 'coming of age' classic, and it's a great scoliosis story to boot.

View on Goodreads >>

 

Mannequin Girl

Mannequin Girl by Ellen Litman

The second novel from Ellen Litman, Mannequin Girl is another coming-of-age story, but this one is set in 1980s Moscow.

The action - which takes place within a boarding school that's specifically for children with scoliosis - centres around lead character Kat, who enters first grade at the age of six as the book begins. We then see Kat's experiences over the eight years that follow.

Themes of identity, independence and rebellion emerge; Litman herself grew up in Moscow, allowing her to draw upon her real-life experiences for a narrative that's authentic, engaging and heartfelt despite being written in third person.

View on Goodreads >>

 

Heaven Sent book

Heaven Sent by S.J. Morgan

The most recent entry on this list, Heaven Sent is the debut novel of British ex-pat S.J. Morgan. A trained occupational therapist, Morgan has real knowledge of scoliosis, and she uses this knowledge to great effect throughout Heaven Sent.

Another coming-of-age novel, relationships are the key theme here, with particular focus on friendship, family and love. The well-developed characters and thought-provoking narrative make Heaven Sent a solid read that's even more appealing to those with firsthand experience of scoliosis.

View on Goodreads >>

Scoliosis SOS is a specialist clinic in London, UK for people with scoliosis and other spinal conditions. Learn more about us here, and if you'd like to arrange a consultation, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

As you may already be aware, June is Scoliosis Awareness Month.

Raise Scoliosis Awareness

Image source: Scoliosis Research Society

If you're looking to help fly the scoliosis flag this month, there are lots of ways to help raise awareness - here are just a few ideas to get your cogs turning:

 

1. Social Media

It's no secret that social media is an incredibly powerful tool. This applies just as much to your personal social media accounts as it does to those owned by businesses, brands and celebrities.

If you want to get the word out to your friends, followers and family members, a simple Facebook update, tweet or Instagram post can go a surprisingly long way. Including a 'please share' request within your post will encourage people to spread the word to their own social spheres.

 

2. Flyers

If you're not big on social media, offline methods can work too. Printed flyers can be extremely impactful when it comes to informing and educating your community.

Producing flyers can be surprisingly economical, too - particularly if you shop around. Once you've got a stack of flyers ready, distribution can be as simple as standing in the centre of town and handing them out. You may also be able to place your flyers in local cafés, shops and other locations (but be sure to ask permission first).

 

3. Viral Challenges

Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? It was a sensation back in 2014: countless people, including a number of politicians and celebrities, shared videos of themselves getting soaked in order to raise awareness and funds for motor neurone disease charities across the globe.

We're not suggesting that you subject yourself to a bucket of ice-cold water, but you could definitely look to the viral success of the Ice Bucket Challenge for inspiration. Why not think of your own unique challenge, give it a catchy name, and get filming? Then post the video online, challenge three of your friends, and see where it leads!

 

4. Posters

A memorable, well-designed poster can be a great way to get a point across. If you're not much of a designer yourself, it's well worth paying a professional to put something together for you - posters work best when they're really eye-catching!

Strategic placement is important to make sure your poster is seen. Ask you family and friends to help you get your posters in densely-populated, high-footfall areas like busy streets, community centres, and places of business.

 

5. Speeches

If you're a confident public speaker, Scoliosis Awareness Month is a great time to put that talent to use. Giving a talk at - for example - a local school is a superb way to get the message out to people who might not otherwise have heard it. This is especially true if you yourself have scoliosis and can comment on what it's like to live with a curved spine.

If appropriate, you could even follow up your speech with a collection bucket to make the most of your platform and raise funds for a scoliosis charity of your choosing.

 

6. Merchandise

Pens, badges, hats, T-shirts...branded merchandise is a great way to promote a cause, and if you can afford it, you may want to consider using customised merch to raise awareness of scoliosis.

You could give your merchandise away for free as a promotional exercise, or sell it to raise funds for a worthy charity - either way, don't be afraid to get creative!

 

7. School / Work

Whether you're in school, university, or the world of work, getting your classmates / colleagues involved in your quest to boost scoliosis awareness will help you to cover a lot more ground.

Here's the golden rule: the simpler the task, the more likely people are to participate. Try to keep your requests nice and straightforward - for instance, you could encourage everyone to wear green for scoliosis, or change their email signature in recognition of Scoliosis Awareness Month. If you're feeling ambitious, you could even organise a bake sale and donate the proceeds to a scoliosis charity.

 

8. Local News

Even in this ultra-connected era, lots of people still read the local paper - or indeed the local paper's website.

Journalists are always looking for ideas, and they love local interest stories that focus on real people and the challenges they face. If you have struggled with scoliosis and achieved something special, now is the perfect time to celebrate it. In a world that can sometimes feel like it's bursting with bad news, a slice of positivity should be an easy sell that your local journos welcome with open arms.

More on Scoliosis Awareness Month   About Scoliosis SOS

Inspirational scoliosis quote

Scoliosis is a condition that affects people from all walks of life. Countless people with scoliosis use social media, blogs and other media outlets to share their personal experiences and offer support to others.

Here are just a few scoliosis quotes from people who have dealt with their condition in the public eye:

 

Celebrities

A number of well-known public figures have used their positions of influence to raise awareness about scoliosis and to be positive role models for others with the condition.

 

Princess Eugenie of York, British Royal

Here's what Princess Eugenie said after her wedding to Jack Brooksbank, during which she wore a dress that showed off the scar from her spinal fusion surgery:

"I believe scars are like memories that tell a story on your body, that remind you of how strong you had to be, and that you survived to talk about it. Your scars are a way of communicating, and sharing a trauma can be healing in so many ways - it can release the stigma you might have given to yourself, and by talking about it, you can show people how they can heal too."

 

Kurt Cobain, American Musician

Here is an excerpt from an interview that the troubled Nirvana frontman gave in 1993:

"When I stand, everything is sideways, it's weird...I go to a chiropractor every once in a while...most people have a small curvature in their spine anyhow, though some people have it really bad and have to wear metal braces. It gives me back pain all the time. That really adds the pain to our music. It really does. I'm kind of grateful for it."

 

Usain Bolt, Jamaican Athlete

Here's what Bolt had to say when asked about his scoliosis in a 2011 interview with ESPN:

"When I was younger it wasn't really a problem. But you grow and it gets worse. My spine's really curved bad...but if I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn't really bother me. So I don't have to worry about it as long as I work hard."

 See Also: Famous People with Scoliosis

 

Scoliosis Influencers

We at Scoliosis SOS have been lucky enough to speak with a number of inspiring people who are working to raise awareness of scoliosis and provide support for those who have it. Here is some of their advice for people with scoliosis:

 

Leah Stoltz, Founder of Curvy Girls

"Talk about how you're feeling! Don't keep it bundled inside. Find support: a trusted friend, a parent, an online forum, Instagram page, Facebook group, book...there are so many ways to feel supported and to talk with other girls who are going though what you are going through."

Read Full Interview >

 

Rachel Mulvaney, Vice President of Curvy Girls

"Throughout my bracing years, I was told that my chronic back pain did not exist because scoliosis 'does not cause any pain'. I was one of many patients who was spoken to in this way. But after learning a programme [the Schroth method] that both validated and eliminated my pain, I was determined to spread the word. I wanted to make sure all Curvy Girl families had the opportunity to know that this treatment existed."

Read Full Interview >

 

Louise Laurie, Scoliosis Blogger

"Every case is different, but I would say that mindset is everything. I used to feel so down about my back, but I've realised that having scoliosis does not have to hold you back - you can achieve anything you put your mind to."

Read Full Interview >

 

@scolilife, Scoliosis Tweeter

"As cheesy as it sounds, things get better. When I was diagnosed, I thought my life was over - it was the biggest deal, and no matter what, everything seemed like bad news or just another complication to add to my growing list. But soon enough, you adjust to the brace. The X-rays become fun. The appointments become bonding time with your family. Your scoliosis becomes a point of pride rather than disappointment, and you become stronger and more independent because of it."

Read Full Interview >

 

Chloe Donhou, Spinal Fusion Patient

Chloe underwent spinal fusion surgery live on Channel 5 earlier this year, a spectacle that gave viewers a real insight into what scoliosis surgery actually entails. Here's something she said after sitting for a painting that was featured on scoliosis blog The Curvy Truth:

"I have always felt the need to cover up my scoliosis as I hated the way my back looked. Wearing clothes was difficult as I felt they sat weirdly on my back. I became so annoyed with myself that I couldn’t just accept it, so I felt that having this piece [a painting of her back] done would allow me to see that it really isn’t that bad after all. The painting is now hung up on my bedroom wall and I see it every day. Seeing it all the time really allowed me to come to terms with it - I accept who I am and I love me for it!"

 

If you are suffering from scoliosis, don't think you are alone. There are people all around who are willing to help and support you - for instance, take a look at our list of scoliosis support groups around the world.

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Several individuals with scoliosis (a sideways curvature of the spine)

Every year, scoliosis sufferers and those close to them recognise the month of June as Scoliosis Awareness Month. This is an annual opportunity for people all over the world to come together, speak out about life with a curved spine, and educate others about what it means to have scoliosis.

This month-long event culminates in International Scoliosis Awareness Day, which falls on the last Saturday of June (meaning that the date to remember this year is 29th June 2019). The UK Scoliosis Association (SAUK) launched International Scoliosis Awareness Day six years ago - here, in the organisation's own words, is why they did it:

"SAUK launched ISAD in 2013 to unite people across the world to create positive public awareness of scoliosis, promote education, and bring together those affected."

 

How do people mark Scoliosis Awareness Month?

People mark this annual occasion in a number of different ways. If you use Twitter, keep an eye out for the hashtag #ScoliosisAwarenessMonth - throughout June, people with scoliosis use this tag to share their stories, their X-ray scans, and photos of their curved backs and surgery scars. All of these posts are intermingled with advice for fellow scoliosis patients and useful information about the condition.

There will also be a number of events taking place in recognition of Scoliosis Awareness Month. In June 2017, for instance, the Curvy Girls support group organised a large walk in New Jersey to raise awareness of spinal curvature.

 

4 things you should know about scoliosis

We're keen to do our bit for Scoliosis Awareness Month too, so here - for the benefit of anyone who is unfamiliar with this condition - are 4 things we think everyone should know about scoliosis. Feel free to share this post to help raise awareness!

1. What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves sideways, often resulting in symptoms such as pain, reduced flexibility, muscular imbalance, and (in extreme cases) compromised breathing.

Watch our video to find out more:

For a rough idea of what scoliosis actually looks like, consult the diagram below. However, do bear in mind that every case of scoliosis is different - symptoms, severity, and curve location vary hugely from one person to the next.

Scoliosis symptoms

2. How common is scoliosis?

Scoliosis affects roughly 4% of people worldwide (i.e. approximately 1 in 25 people). It can occur in any individual regardless of age or gender; however, it is most commonly found in adolescent girls. Read more >

3. What causes scoliosis?

There are many different types of scoliosis with many possible causes. By far the most common form is idiopathic scoliosis, which usually develops during adolescence and has no known cause, though it is thought to be linked to genetic factors.

However, scoliosis can also be caused by:

  • Birth defects
  • Old age
  • A wide range of conditions including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spondylolisthesis, and many more

It's worth noting that scoliosis is NOT caused by carrying heavy bags, though this is a common misconception. Read more >

4. How is scoliosis treated?

Scoliosis can be treated using a number of different methods, with bracing and spinal fusion surgery being the most common. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in London, England, we treat scoliosis using a combination of non-surgical, exercise-based techniques that we call the ScolioGold method. This approach - using physical therapy to reduce the patient's spinal curve and improve their quality of life - has shown itself to be very effective. View results >

If you need more information about scoliosis, or if you're interested in the treatment courses we provide here at Scoliosis SOS, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Treatment Dates 2019   Book a Consultation

The history of scoliosis therapy can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece.

More specifically, scoliosis treatment has its roots in the 5th century BC and one man in particular: Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460 – 370 BC).

Statue of Hippocrates

Who was Hippocrates?

The mid-to-late 5th century BC was a turbulent time for the Hellenic people.

From 431 to 404 BC, the country was entrenched in a titanic war between the Delian League of Athens and the Peloponnesian League of Sparta. Meanwhile, Athens was also suffering from a devastating plague, which wreaked havoc in the city periodically between 430 and 426 BC.

In short, it was a dark time for Greece. But this was also the period that gave us Hippocrates, often referred to as the 'father of medicine'.

Born on the island of Kos around 460 BC, Hippocrates was the son of a physician and is believed to have learned the trade from his father. Among his long list of medical achievements, Hippocrates is heralded as the first person to theorise that diseases and ailments were caused by environmental factors and not the result of superstition or an act of the gods.

He's also the namesake of the 'Hippocratic Oath': the pledge taken by doctors declaring their moral and ethical obligations to their patients as medical practitioners.

Hippocrates and Scoliosis

Separating medicine from religion would probably have been enough on its own to secure Hippocrates's place in history, but his achievements go far beyond that. Notably, he was also a key figure in the history of spinal treatment, and he is believed to have been the first physician to focus on the anatomy and pathology of the human spine.

Through his revolutionary study of the spinal structure and vertebrae, Hippocrates's work led to the pioneering identification of many spine-related diseases – including scoliosis.

Hippocrates is commonly credited as the person who coined the term 'scoliosis' and the first to try treating this condition.

Scoliosis

Hippocratic Scoliosis Treatment

From his unprecedented study of orthopaedics, Hippocrates created three pieces of equipment to treat spinal ailments: namely the Hippocratic ladder, the Hippocratic board, and the Hippocratic bench.

Hippocratic Ladder

Intended to reduce spinal curvatures, the Hippocratic ladder treatment required the patient to be elevated and tied to the ladder upright or head down (depending on the where the curvature lay). The patient would then be shaken on the ladder, with the gravitational pull theoretically straightening the spine.

Hippocratic Board

Similar to the ladder, treatment via the Hippocratic board involved the patient being tied to the board; however, this time, the patient was required to be prone, lying face down and flat. The physician would then apply pressure to the affected area of the spine using a hand, foot, or even the entire weight of the body.

Hippocratic Bench

Also known as the Hippocratic scamnum, the bench technique saw the patient lie face down on a bench similar to the board technique above. A smaller wooden board was then inserted into a pre-made hole in the wall, leaving the plank protruding out above the patient's back. An assistant would then apply pressure on the end of the plank while the physician manoeuvred the board along the body.

Like many ancient treatments, these techniques naturally seem archaic, even barbaric by today's standards. Nevertheless, these apparatuses – based on the principles of axial traction and three-point correction – were hugely innovative at the time, and they had a profound influence on the direction of spinal treatment to follow.

Luckily, medical science has come a long way since the days of Hippocrates, and there are now a variety of comfortable and safe non-surgical scoliosis treatments available. At Scoliosis SOS, our team of friendly, skilled therapists offer patients specialised scoliosis treatment that's specifically designed to enhance your quality of life.

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