Happy 13th Birthday Scoliosis SOS

The Scoliosis SOS Clinic was founded by Erika Maude on 29 May 2006 - which means we're 13 today!

We've achieved a lot in the last 13 years. Here are just a few highlights:

Most importantly, though, we've helped thousands of people with scoliosis to take control of their condition, keep doing the things they love, and - in many cases - completely avoid undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

We'd like to say a huge THANK YOU to all the patients (and their families) who have visited the Scoliosis SOS Clinic over the past 13 years. It's been a huge honour to meet and help so many of you - long may it continue!

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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 >

Patient Care Coordinator Kylie Hobson

I have worked for Scoliosis SOS for 10 years this month, and over those 10 years I have watched and played a part in the huge growth of the clinic. We can now say that we have treated patients from all over the world, and helped thousands of people to avoid spinal fusion surgery.

Throughout that time, I have also spent time travelling to different scoliosis conferences throughout the world. I met my wonderful husband - who was in fact a ScolioGold therapist! I underwent 3 rounds of unsuccessful IVF treatment, had my amazing little girl (who were told by a consultant we would never conceive naturally!) and I am now 20 weeks pregnant with our 2nd natural miracle! The support of Scoliosis SOS as an employer and a clinic as a whole has been incredible, and words simply cannot describe how amazing I think the ScolioGold method is.

Kylie with the Scoliosis SOS team

Being rushed through an appointment with an orthopaedic consultant, our patients are often left bewildered in a world of unanswered questions. Patients usually turn to the Internet for guidance and advice.

However, from my personal experience, Google is often the last place patients find that reassurance, and are often left even more worried and concerned about what the future may hold.

So many of the patients and parents I talk to are so confused about their (or their child's) diagnosis and treatment options. Often, they have not even heard about scoliosis and had no idea how quickly it can develop, especially in adolescents. They are often scared, even terrified by what they have been told and have no idea what direction to turn. Most parents or newly-diagnosed scoliosis patients just want someone to listen to them. They want to be given information and facts that are specifically related to their scoliosis, and they also want to hear that there is a very successful, realistic alternative to spinal fusion surgery.

The NHS currently has a very strict protocol for newly-diagnosed scoliosis patients. If a patient’s Cobb angle is less than 40 degrees, they use the relatively non-proactive 'watch and wait' approach. This usually involves a check-up appointment once every 6 months. Rarely is any treatment offered, although occasionally patients are fitted with a hard corset-style brace to try and prevent progression.

What patients are not told is that if they just wear the brace and do no other exercise, the muscles that currently support the spine in their scoliotic posture will probably waste completely, and when they come out of the brace, progression is likely to occur again.

Conversely, research has found that wearing a brace alongside doing specific exercises for scoliosis CAN prevent progression, and patients are often able to hold a non-scoliotic posture when they are not wearing the brace.

Our treatment is designed to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, bringing the patient into a more central upright position. The exercises have been proven to reduce the pain caused by muscle imbalance, improve cosmetic appearance by decreasing rotation, and ultimately prevent the patient's Cobb angle from getting any worse. Patients have also been able to reduce the size of their Cobb angle by up to 20 degrees.

Unfortunately, some (not all) orthopaedic consultants are very closed-minded when it comes to exercise therapy. They believe that surgery is the only option once a patient’s Cobb angle exceeds 40 degrees; however, we know this is not the case, and we have helped so many patients to regain control of their lives and manage their condition through exercise rather than by going under the knife.

So, if you or someone you know has been diagnosed with scoliosis, please call Scoliosis SOS and speak to one of our patient care co-ordinators. They will be more than happy to spend time answering all of your unanswered questions, and will be able to offer you advice that relates specifically to your particular condition.

Spinal fusion surgery can come with huge risks for some patients, and being given information on the different options available may just mean you make the decision that is right for you and that you won’t live to regret in 20 years’ time.

From my own personal experience, consultants are not always right and there are always alternatives to what you are told in that 30-minute appointment.

For more information, call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 or have a look at our website.

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.