Scoliosis is a serious medical condition that affects people of all ages. Ever since its discovery in the 5th century, medical practitioners worldwide continue to conduct studies searching for a cure.
Until today, there is still no known cure for scoliosis. However, as technology advances, many various treatments have become available to slow down the progress, manage the pain, and improve a patient’s quality of life.
Through careful consideration of a patient’s case and physical maturity, doctors recommend the best suitable treatment. And more often than not, Schroth therapy ranks the list in terms of effectiveness.
What is Schroth Therapy?
Schroth therapy consists of custom exercises based on a patient’s curve pattern. It’s a nonsurgical treatment aiming to improve the spine’s alignment to prevent pain and curve progression.
Schroth therapy was named after Katherina Schroth, a german physicist who also had scoliosis. She used her body as a test case to design the method to formulate exercises and breathing techniques. Though the therapy has already evolved over the years, the principles on postural corrections remain the same.
Schroth therapy has three essential components that follow the principles of correction. It focuses on muscular symmetry, rotational angular breathing, and postural awareness.
Essential Components of Schroth Therapy
Each patient’s scoliosis is unique.
Some exercises may work for one person, but not for another. Hence, Schroth therapy is custom-tailored to a scoliosis patient’s unique case.
A certified Schroth physical therapist or specialist tailor guides a patient in applying the three essential components. These are muscle symmetry, rotational breathing, and posture awareness.
Each component has a specific goal and set of exercises that you can perform during a physical therapy session or at home. Make sure to consult with a certified Schroth practitioner first before performing any activities at home.
1. Muscle Symmetry
The muscles are badly affected as the curve progresses. The imbalance makes the muscles disproportioned and overworked, leading to more harm than good.
Schroth therapy aims to eliminate dissymmetry by strengthening the back muscles. Stability exercises such as Pilates help.
2. Rotational Breathing
Scoliosis causes the spine to rotate, leading to the rib cage’s deformity and the soft tissues around it. As a result, patients experience severe back pain and breathing problems that negatively affect their lives.
Schroth therapy eliminates the breathing difficulty caused by the spine rotation. By performing rotational and angular breathing exercises, the spinal curve can shift out of the way and improve breathing function.
3. Posture Awareness
Scoliosis can even worsen a bad posture. Posture awareness is the first, most important way to correct it.
Posture awareness is a component of Schroth therapy that teaches and enables patients to be mindful of their posture. Being fully aware helps avoid bad posture and habits as they perform different activities daily.
How Effective is Schroth Therapy?To date, there is no known cure for scoliosis that can eliminate it. Several studies, however, show that Schroth therapy is an effective treatment that prevents the condition from getting worse. It works best when combined with scoliosis bracing.
Schroth's method is proven to strengthen the back muscles, slow curve progression, improve Cobb angles, improve breathing, and decrease the need for surgery.
Here are some case studies to support this claim:
1. Decreasing Cobb’s Angle and Pain
In a case report conducted in 2016, Schroth therapy was performed on three patients. The treatment was three times a week, for 15 weeks. The patients have idiopathic scoliosis and Cobb’s angle of ≥10°.
After 15 weeks in the program, a noticeable decrease in Cobb’s angle and the pain were recorded. The findings show significant improvement compared to its previous record.
2. Improving Regression and Quality of Life for Adolescents with Idiopathic Scoliosis
They conducted a systematic review in 2018 to determine Schroth therapy’s effectiveness on patients who have adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).
The participants’ range was a mix of male and female, with ages 10 and 19 and a cobb’s angle of ≥10°. They were split into two groups. A physiotherapist supervised the first group while the second group performed the Schroth exercises at home.
After a 12-week and a 24-week observation period, results showed that Schroth therapy dramatically impacts regression of the Cobb angle. And the quality of life.
3. Schroth therapy during bracing
A preliminary study was conducted in 2017 to determine if Schroth therapy, when combined with bracing, improves AIS patients’ condition. For six months, the participants had to wear a scoliosis brace while undergoing Schroth therapy.
After six months, findings showed that Schroth therapy, combined with bracing, improved a patient’s trunk rotation, Cobb angle, and quality of life. The study concluded that Schroth therapy combined with scoliosis bracing leads to a higher Cobb angle improvement rate.
Schroth therapy is a practical, non-invasive treatment for patients dealing with scoliosis. Though Schroth therapy doesn’t cure the spine problem entirely, it does the job of preventing further curve progression and promoting spinal balance and stability.
Many studies prove that the application of Schroth therapy, whether as a stand-alone treatment or combined treatment with scoliosis bracing, significantly decreases the pain and Cobb’s angle.
Children, adolescents, and adults who have scoliosis greatly benefit from Schroth therapy. A certified Schroth practitioner guides patients to perform exercises based on their unique spinal curve pattern.
It’s best to visit a clinic to attend physical therapy sessions. When not available, doctors can recommend specific exercises to encourage patients to workout at home.
Make sure to consult with a certified Schroth practitioner first before performing any home workouts, as each case of scoliosis is unique.
Some exercises may or may not work, depending on the severity of the case. A wrong approach can lead to harm. Hence, you must observe strict guidance from a certified Schroth professional.
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