The final 2 days of the 2019 SOSORT (Society On Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment) meeting in San Francisco proved to be just as productive and educational as the start of the conference.

 Erika Maude SOSORT Presentation

Friday 26 April

Friday began with a variety of scientific paper award sessions, including those on the 'Impact of Sports Activities on Adolescent Scoliosis Patients' (from a team at the Italian Scientific Institute) and the 'Effects of Inspiratory Muscle Training on Respiratory Muscle Strength' (from a research group at Bezmiâlem University in Istanbul, Turkey). This was followed by a moving presentation from Dr. Scott Haldeman on the work of World Spine Care, a global charity on a mission to improve lives in under-served communities by aiming to create a world in which everyone has access to the highest possible quality of spine care.

Clinic Principal Erika Maude (pictured above) then presented the Scoliosis SOS Clinic's work: 'Exploring the Cost Effectiveness of an Intensive Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercise (PSSE) Programme in a UK Adult Population'. Many of our patients will recall being asked to complete quality of life questionnaires at various points during their treatment programmes, and we are very grateful to everyone who has helped to contribute to this ground-breaking piece of research and prove that our ScolioGold therapy is a cost-effective alternative to the existing treatments of bracing and surgery that are currently offered by the UK's National Health Service. We will be uploading the full video recording of Erika 's presentation at the San Francisco conference later next week.

The day concluded with a talk from orthopaedic specialist Mr Peter Newton, current president of the SRS (Scoliosis Research Society), on the organisation's work as a networking hub for spinal specialists from all over the world.

 

Georgie Frere SOSORT Presentation

Saturday 27 April

Saturday saw Rachel Mulvaney, Vice President of Curvy Girls, speak on the 'Power of Peer Support' and showcase the amazing work this society does to help girls with scoliosis across the globe.

Our Clinical Manager Georgie Frere (pictured above) also gave an excellent insight into the importance of 'Strategies to Improve Home Exercise Compliance in Patients with Scoliosis', something that we are very passionate about supporting our patients with when they return home after completing a treatment course at our clinic. Every patient receives a personalised exercise schedule, and we have also been trialling the use of paper exercise diaries for some of our patients to see if this improves their motivation at home. Georgie's presentation has also been recorded and will be uploaded to our YouTube channel shortly.

 

Looking ahead to SOSORT 2020

Next year's SOSORT conference will be held in Melbourne, Australia, and the Scoliosis SOS team are already hard at work finalising their scientific abstracts for submission before the deadline in October 2019. The 2020 conference looks set to be bigger than ever, and will be teaming up with SpineWeek to offer a scientific collaboration bringing together clinicians and scientists from around the world and from very different scientific societies.

Learn More About Scoliosis SOS >   Upcoming Treatment Course Dates >

SOSORT 2019 in San Francisco

SOSORT (Society On Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment) is a non-profit organisation that aims to encourage the development of conservative - i.e. non-surgical - treatment methods for scoliosis and other spinal conditions. The cornerstone of SOSORT's work is their Annual Meeting, which takes place in a different location each year and comprises a variety of scientific and educational events.

The Scoliosis SOS Clinic have had a consistent presence at these Annual Meetings for a number of years now. Clinic Principal Erika Maude, Clinic Manager Georgie Frere and ScolioGold Therapist Kara Cattell are currently in San Francisco, California for SOSORT's 14th International Conference on Scoliosis Management. This year, more than 300 participants from across 6 different continents have gathered together to discuss the latest developments, research and techniques for non-surgical scoliosis patient care.

On Thursday, attendees listened to lectures from keynote speakers Dr Manuel Rigo - who was Erika's doctor when she herself underwent treatment in Spain back in 2002 - and Dr Stuart Weinstein, an orthopaedic surgeon and US healthcare policy advisor.

Dr Rigo gave a brilliant insight into the history of exercise-based therapy for scoliosis (dating back to the 18th century, when wall bars were first invented by a Swedish physician) and finished with an overview of modern-day physiotherapy methods from around the world.

Dr Weinstein's talk focused on health economics and how, with scoliosis surgery being one of the biggest health costs for teenage populations in many countries, healthcare providers are going to be under increasing pressure in the near future to find more cost-effective ways to treat this patient group - namely with less invasive, more conservative methods. This is a particularly popular topic at the moment, and Erika hopes that her upcoming scientific presentation on the health economics of patient quality of life will greatly add to the evidence supporting the wider use of exercise therapy to treat scoliosis patients.

Be sure to check the Scoliosis SOS blog next week for more information on Erika's presentation, as well as Georgie's presentation on patient compliance.

Our Scoliosis Research >   Our Treatment Method >

Scoliosis Surgery Headlines

Last night (10 April 2019), 18-year-old Chloe Donhou from Essex underwent spinal fusion surgery to correct her 60+ degree scoliosis. This wouldn't normally be headline news - scoliosis affects approximately 3% of the population, and countless spinal fusion procedures are carried out worldwide each year - but Chloe's operation was noteworthy because it was televised.

Channel 5's Operation Live is a groundbreaking television series that's exactly what its title suggests: live TV broadcasts of surgical operations, interspersed with commentary from the medical professionals involved. At the centre of last night's instalment was Chloe, who has spent much of the last 18 years in pain as a result of her spinal curvature.

Speaking to the Express ahead of her operation, Chloe said: "This is something I've been waiting for my whole life. It's finally happened. It's the little things people don't understand...if I go bowling with friends, I'll be in agony the next day."

Chloe's spinal fusion procedure was carried out by the orthopaedic team at The Royal London Hospital, and watched by viewers all over the UK.

Read some of the reactions to Chloe's spinal fusion surgery on Twitter >

 

Is spinal fusion surgery the only answer for people with scoliosis?

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide exercise-based physical therapy that helps people with scoliosis to live better lives. We quite frequently hear from individuals who are looking for alternatives to spinal fusion surgery - as effective as the operation is, there's always a risk associated with any surgical procedure, and many scoliosis patients prefer not to go through with it.

Over the last 12-13 years, we have helped many people with scoliosis to improve their condition and avoid spinal fusion surgery. Our internationally-renowned ScolioGold treatment method has proven capable of:

  • Reducing pain
  • Making spinal curves smaller
  • Improving muscle balance and flexibility
  • Boosting overall quality of life

If you would like to find out more about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and the treatment we provide, please telephone 0207 488 4428 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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Darren Lui with Scoliosis SOS team

On Thursday 7th February 2019, we were privileged to welcome Mr Darren Lui into the Scoliosis SOS Clinic along with Kate Robertson, a physiotherapist who works alongside him in South West London. Mr Lui specialises in orthopaedics and has a particular interest in vertebral body tethering.

Mr Lui gave a very interesting presentation to our ScolioGold therapists and patient care co-ordinators about sagittal balance and the importance of assessing and treating each patient individually based on their presentation. He also discussed the ways in which he feels having an effective pre- and post-surgery physiotherapy structure in place could help to decrease scoliotic patients' pain and improve many patients' quality of life.

As a team, we discussed the significance of having a 'pretty x-ray' showing a straighter spine, and how this is often the sole goal of young girls undergoing spinal fusion surgery. Although this is the outcome for some patients, in a lot of cases this is far from a realistic outcome for the patient and the more important outcomes should be measured against patient flexibility, quality of life and pain reduction.

Mr Lui explained that if he is able to stabilise a curvature and prevent further progression, the procedure is still classed as a success. This initially shocked our team of ScolioGold therapists who had been so used to hearing about the significance of Cobb angle reduction within the orthopaedic world. In fact, many of our patients contact the clinic specifically to find out by how much they can expect to reduce their Cobb angle.

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we have seen patients reduce their Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees through exercise. However, this is never something we guarantee, and patients are specifically advised that the aim of our treatment is to prevent further progression and improve quality of life.

Up until very recently, most orthopaedic surgeons have failed to acknowledge that scoliosis can cause a patient a significant amount of pain. However, times are now changing, and more orthopaedic consultants are identifying that imbalances around the spine due to scoliosis can cause pain in patients. It has also been recognised that surgery would not necessarily be able to decrease pain levels in a patient with scoliosis.

Mr Lui was very keen to see the work our ScolioGold therapists do with our patients during a 4-week treatment course. The aim of ScolioGold treatment is to rebalance the muscles surrounding the spine, allowing patients to stand in a symmetrical upright position, improving their cosmetic appearance, reducing pain, and preventing further progression.

Patients on the NHS are currently offered very little opportunity to learn specific scoliosis exercises. These exercises are proven to be successful, and not only in preventing progression - they have also been shown to improve a patient's quality of life significantly.

Pre- and post-surgery physiotherapy is almost non-existent on the NHS, but allowing patients to take part in such activity could both prevent the need for surgery and improve the outcome for patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

We hope to work closely with Mr Lui over the next few months to make the dream of being able to offer ScolioGold treatment to more patients throughout the UK a reality.

For more information on the treatment we offer, please contact us online or call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428.

"Traditionally, scoliosis has been considered to be a disease affecting bone, cartilage, or neuromuscular activities. We were surprised to find an immune response associated with idiopathic scoliosis."

Idiopathic scoliosis is a condition that affects people all over the world, yet the underlying cause is still unknown. Researchers have made great progress in recent years, however - we've explained previously on this blog that zebrafish can be very useful when researching scoliosis and other congenital defects that occur in humans, and scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children have been examining zebrafish to try to identify factors that contribute to the onset of idiopathic scoliosis.

While looking for abnormal genes or genetic pathways that could be responsible for idiopathic scoliosis, the researchers instead noticed that immune cells liked to inflammatory conditions had accumulated around the area where the spinal curvature occurred. Using genetic tools, they found that stimulating pro-inflammatory signals in the spines of zebrafish could induce idiopathic scoliosis.

Interestingly, the team were also able to demonstrate that blocking these signals using NAC (an over-the-counter supplement that has anti-inflammatory properties) reduced the severity of scoliosis in the zebrafish. If these findings can be applied successfully to humans, then these Toronto-based scientists may have discovered a treatment that is less invasive than some of the treatments currently available to people with scoliosis.

Scoliosis Research Results

Image source: advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/12/eaav1781

The research team are now planning to explore the genetic causes of idiopathic scoliosis in human patients and attempt to determine whether inflammatory signals like those found in the zebrafish can be identified and proven to accelerate the onset or progression of spinal curvature.

Read the Research Article >   How We Treat Scoliosis >