I have just spent a fortunate week at Scoliosis Rehab, Inc. for adult scoliosis that I have been literally battling for 25 years. Simply put, the one-on-one care I received from Beth Janssen PT and Patti Orthwein PT was exceptional on all levels. As a seasoned exercise physiologist, Pilates practitioner and psychologist with many years of clinical experience, I was truly impressed with their knowledge, protocol, manual skills and problem solving capabilities. This was a life altering experience for me. My quest for the appropriate treatment strategy for my scoliosis has been a long and arduous one. The Schroth method, taught by Beth and Patti opened my eyes to the gaps in my previous therapies. Amy Beversdorf, a very gifted Pilates instructor, helped me translate what I had learned into movement patterns on the reformer to reinforce my postural corrections.
The importance of working with a passionate and caring staff cannot be over emphasized. Scoliosis can affect many levels of being--treatment without sensitivity and heart can be incomplete. These women listen and have heart!
This is written with the utmost respect, admiration and appreciation for the entire family at Scoliosis Rehab Inc. I am extremely grateful.
M.A. Longmont, CO
June 1, 2010 – Six weeks later…..I went to Scoliosis Rehab in Phoenix, AZ April 19-23, 2010. I am 51 years old.
My History: I had cancer when I was 6 months old and received surgery and radiation treatments. I was diagnosed at age 19 with scoliosis and not treated. Being disappointed in the way my body looked and felt over the years, I tried several fitness tactics to try to fix the scoliosis such as personal trainers, boot camp fitness programs, tons of sit ups, etc. These did help develop strength (legs, arms, etc.), but unfortunately, my scoliosis and core strength did not improve.
Deciding to try Schroth: I started Pilates in January 2010 at the recommendation of my physical therapist. I had discovered the Schroth method while surfing the Internet a few years ago. My honest reaction at finding Schroth the first time was that I was too old to affect much change in my body. Within a few months of starting Pilates, I noticed my core began to strengthen. I rekindled the idea of trying the Schroth method because it seemed similar to Pilates, but was applied by folks who really had knowledge and experience with scoliosis. Looking at photos on-line, I could tell how much Schroth had helped people who were a lot worse off than me. I felt if they could help them, they could help me. Wow… a true surge of hope that help was attainable! I called my Family Doctor, got updated x-rays and a physical therapy prescription, called Scoliosis Rehab and booked, bought a plane ticket and told my kids I was off for an adventure in Phoenix. It was time to work on me. Scoliosis Rehab is covered by insurance as typical physical therapy.
My goals were:
1) Avoid back problems in the future;
2) Improve my curvature if possible. I picked the Phoenix location because snow and Southern girls don’t mix well…
My week in Phoenix: I arrived at Scoliosis Rehab in Phoenix on Monday morning. Elizabeth and Nancy were there to greet me. Elizabeth took me in hand for the morning session where we established baseline measurements like breath volume, height, muscle strength, etc. Before I arrived, Elizabeth and Nancy had studied my x-rays, etc. and, upon arrival, provided an analysis of my back and the primary and compensatory curves. I am a 4-curve right scoliosis patient. After lunch Monday we started the exercises. Given that whole body image thing, the thought of wearing a swimsuit halter top and showing my stomach to exercise was intimidating to say the least! ? Don’t let this worry you. It is a very private PT studio… usually 2 folks with scoliosis working out at a time – each with his/her own therapist. Exercises are designed specifically for each individual. Each exercise was reviewed and practiced over and over so that by the end of the week I felt ready to do them on my own. I was sent home with a video tape of me exercising to Elizabeth’s reassuring voice.
Conclusions: Upon my return, we built a ‘ladder’ (thanks DB) and put up mirrors behind the ladder and on the right side so I can check my posture while exercising. This is really, really helpful. I meet with my Pilates instructor once per week (thanks SS). We work within the suggested postures on the equipment to further strengthen my core. It’s been about 6 weeks since I went to Phoenix. I have already noticed some physical changes.
Thursday of my week in Phoenix was an emotional day. I talked it over with Elizabeth… she said this reaction was common. I am not sure about the rest of the Scoliosis patients out there, but, in my personal experience, I had never run into any physician or physical therapist who really understood scoliosis, wanted to discuss it, etc. The week in Phoenix was the first time in 40 years that I’ve really talked to someone about my back. What a relief.
- The most significant change is that all weight bearing tasks seem easier. I attribute this to having a stronger core. It is most noticeable when I tote groceries or move around a bag of dog food. It all just seems so much easier. The residual numbness in my right hip and occasional pains in my right leg are gone.
- The second change is fairly subtle, but my belly button and stomach muscles are starting to change. My torso is more proportional.
- The third change is that I look better in my clothes.
- There are emotional changes as well. Nancy and I discussed something Dr. Rigo had said during a training session. Dr. Rigo told the patients that they were beautiful – beautiful even with their scoliosis. I felt a weight being lifted… could I actually be beautiful with a crooked back? What a novel idea.
If you are considering the Schroth method for your scoliosis – congratulations! I hope it helps you as much as it has me. Gather your courage, your work ethic, and your support system and go for it! Elizabeth and Nancy are warm, caring and professional. Elizabeth is both a Physical Therapist and a Pilates Instructor. I thank Elizabeth and Nancy and the folks in Wisconsin who brought the Schroth method to the U.S. I thank my support system of family and friends. Bless all of you. It is truly a life-altering experience to face your scoliosis dead-on and do what you can to improve it. Perhaps I can write an update at a later date to give you my progress.
With Highest Regards and Heartfelt Gratitude,
B.F. Huntsville, AL
At 53 years of age, I have lived with scoliosis for 40 years... in my teens I did exercises and wore a Boston brace for 3 years. My worry was that I would end up like my older sister with a spinal fusion. In my late 20's, my back began to bother me and I searched for a means of finding relief; yoga, swimming, rowing and finally Pilates in my 40's. Pilates offered the most relief, I have found, and I went on-line to look for connections between the two and in that search, stumbled upon the Schroth method. I did not know how I would ever get to a European clinic so you can imagine my delight when I discovered the Scoliosis Rehab Clinic on-line and realized that I could go to Wisconsin instead! The education I received in one week at the Scoliosis Rehab clinic has given me the tools I have looked for since my 20's. Now I don't just manage my pain, I believe I am making actual physical changes to my body.
Beth gave me a detailed description of my anatomy and helped me understand what was going on in the balance between my muscles and my bones. Then both Beth and Patti worked with me to help me find my weak and strong places and how to initiate mental concentration and muscle activation along with breathing to work towards elongating and detorsioning my spine. I also met with Pilate's instructor, Amy, who gave me insight into the intersection of the Schroth work and the Pilates exercises that I have practiced for 7 years. I use the Schroth method that I have learned on an hourly basis. Whenever I am uncomfortable, I check in with my body and apply the corrections that Beth and Patti taught me. Brushing my teeth, waiting for water to boil, sitting here at the computer, driving a car, teaching my Pilates clients, holding a dog, lying in bed, in short, every move I make is informed by the corrections I was taught. It makes a huge difference in my quality of life and my outlook. It is very empowering to be able to help myself and know the anatomical reasons behind the corrections.
I look forward to returning to the Scoliosis Rehab clinic to take the second week of training. I encourage anyone (at any age) with Scoliosis to investigate this method. I can only imagine the results if this had been available to me in my teens. I would like to see this method taught to more American Physical Therapists so that it becomes available to many more people.
I think of you when I'm standing tall and comfortable. I got a little carried away but that's how enthusiastic I am about it. I did not even go into the emotional and spiritual relief I have gotten from this work. When you change the body, you affect everything!
C.L. (adult) Charleston, South Carolina
My daughter is almost 13 years old. She has been a ballet dancer since she was 5, and just last year she was doing 14 plus hours of dance a week. In August of 2009 she was complaining about the lower back pain she had been having. Doctors didn’t know what was causing it and test results didn’t show anything unusual. She stopped dancing, and for a few months she did physical therapy. Finally, there was a follow-up x-ray that showed a 5-degree curvature in her spine. It took just a little more than a month for her curve to reach 31 degrees. All of her doctors were scared that her condition was progressing so fast. Many tests were done and a conclusion was made that she has nothing else, just idiopathic scoliosis. One recommendation from the doctors was to wearing the Boston brace and to see how her body would react. That didn’t sound like a good plan for healing.
When we found out about Scoliosis Rehab, our hopes grew higher. The entire program really made sense for us. My daughter and I had just come back from their clinic in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where we spent our first week of treatment. From the beginning to the end, from the warm welcome to the sadness of saying goodbye, it was a positive experience. The lessons were conducted by very dedicated professionals, Elizabeth and Nancy. The atmosphere and the personal approach to it were very important. We learned a lot and all of our questions were answered. My daughter is now doing her exercises daily and I can already see a big improvement in her posture, and also her back pain has lessened. She knows how to live everyday life and feel good about herself. We believe she has all the right tools to manage her scoliosis. Knowing that we are on the right path makes everything better! We are looking forward to going to the Wisconsin clinic for our second week of therapy in August.
Thank you Elizabeth, Nancy and the Wisconsin office, Kathy and Julayne for their big support!
MK (mother of adolescent) Ocean, NJ
When I first found out I had scoliosis, I was worried it wouldn't get better. When I went to Scoliosis Rehab, they taught me new ways to remind myself to keep good posture. They taught me good techniques to help keep my pelvis stable and less strain on the back. I was very happy when I found out my last x-ray showed no change. It's good to know that I do these exercises at home by myself.
M.C. (adolescent) Plover, WI
I am very thankful to have found the caring and supportive people at Scoliosis Rehab. Pain has been my constant companion since childhood, but I never understood why. After abdominal surgery nine years ago, the pain escalated and began to seriously limit my life. I searched for a way to manage the pain both in the medical community and in a variety of alternative approaches. Finally, I understand how my spinal curves contribute to my pain. And, even better, I know how to take control of myself to improve each day.
N.S. (adult) Marquette, MI
When I found myself, as a mother of two girls with scoliosis faced with the possibility of spinal fusion surgery, I was overwhelmed. I knew that there had to be a better option. I got on the internet to research alternatives and read about the Schroth method which is widely practiced in Europe. The case studies I read online looked promising. I was about to pack my girls up and travel to England when I discovered through another computer search that there was a Schroth clinic in Wisconsin. It was too good to be true. Our two weeks in Stevens Point, Wisconsin were very encouraging. The girls learned how to live and make adjustments to their daily activities that have a positive affect on their scoliosis. They learned exercises that would keep their scoliosis from progressing. And, I can't say enough good things about their therapists, Beth and Patti. They gave them excellent one-on-one attention and encouragement. This is something that will impact my daughters in a positive way for the rest of their lives. There needs to be a Schroth clinic in every major city in the United States!
CC (mother of 2 adolescents), San Antonio, TX
From the first minute we walked into the clinic, we felt a great comfort that we had never felt any time we went to the doctor's office to see about TJ's back. The entire staff blessed us from the minute we walked in the door. More than anything, they gave us hope; hope that we could control what we had been made to believe until that point was in the hands of the doctors and fate. It was so great to take fate by the horns! Thank you Beth for taking the initiative to seek out this "revolutionary" therapy. You are changing lives!
With great respect,
DC (mother of adolescent) Mission, TX
We found out that our daughter had scoliosis at her well child check up when she was 9 years old. We were then referred to an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation. Once I figured out that it was a "wait and watch" deal and possible surgery down the road, I started researching other alternatives. We have been to chiropractors, Rolfing, Clear Institute program, braces, and even endured acupuncture with no results. Fortunately, after more research, I came across the Schroth method. As soon as we could, we flew to Scoliosis Rehab in Wisconsin. What an amazing place with such an astounding staff! Beth is compassionate about what she is doing for scoliotic patients and it shows. There are no words to express the gratitude we have for Beth and her staff. We learned so much information during the treatments, which you will not find anywhere else. The most important thing is that our daughter learned from it and at the same time enjoyed being there. When we left, she asked when we were going to get to come back! That spoke volumes to me. Thank you Beth, Patti, Stef, Jan, & Julayne!!
T.M., Oklahoma City
My scoliosis was diagnosed at age 9 and was followed by a specialist until my growth was completed. His recommendation was to swim and to refrain from spine-compressing bouncing (e.g., pogo stick, horseback riding). Although I have remained pain-free, the curvature has been clearly increasing with age. Along with consistently swimming, I began to search for methods to prevent increased collapse of the spine. A back doctor referred me to Pilates, and after around a year and a half of doing a Pilates home exercise routine, it seemed to have improved the curvature somewhat. However, when I heard about the Schroth method, it looked like a breakthrough, and the back specialist agreed. Going to Europe was too extreme, so when I found out there was a clinic in Wisconsin, I decided that given the fact that I am in my mid-sixties seeking to prevent the curvature from deteriorating with age to the point of pain or physical limitations, it is important enough to justify a major investment of time, effort and money. Scoliosis Rehab met or exceeded my expectations and aspirations on every level. The week's program was clear and very professional. It set me up to be able to add to my life focused regular Schroth exercises, a more effective way to utilize the Pilates routine, as well as new, more positive habits of how to use my body round-the-clock. Everyone at the clinic was very effective, as well as having a most refreshing and really helpful personal approach. I am very grateful for all the excellent high quality care I received, and have high hopes that this will prevent deterioration of my scoliosis as I age further.
I am not exaggerating when I say that working at Scoliosis Rehab was a life-changing experience.
Although the Arizona facility was lovely and comfortable, the most important element was the expertise of Elizabeth and Nancy. They were professional, talented, and caring. Their separate knowledge and approaches complemented each other and made the sessions interesting and informative. I regard the two as helpful friends, ones who are still "pulling" for me in the months after our session.
I am a 62 year old woman who was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 13. My parents and I never did anything to remediate the situation, and although one leg seemed longer than the other and my rib cage was very strange looking, I saw the malady as simply part of life. By the time I was 30 with definite back pain, the orthopedic surgeon told me nothing could be done: his advice was to keep my weight down and remain flexible. Yoga became part of my life. From time to time my back pain would "flare up"; I'd go to various orthopedic specialists and was given anti-inflammatory drugs. In 2002 I became alarmed again when I could no longer bend over. That specialist was the first to show me my x-rays and describe my curvatures (31 and 33 degrees) and to prescribe a course of physical therapy that really helped mitigate the pain.
In my fifties I had three broken bones from skiing and a reactive arthritis that ate up my menisci. As my body worked hard to compensate for those ailments, my back was once again hurting. When I returned to the doctor, he noted that my curvatures were over 40 degrees and asked me to return yearly. Although I did every core exercise I could imagine, every year my scoliosis was progressively worse. Friends I used to tower over were now even with me: I was 5'5" tall instead of 5'7". One of my shoulder blades protruded dramatically and constantly burned with pain, my upper back was ugly enough to keep my back upper back covered, and my back had folded under the rib cage on one side. Last summer one surgeon advised me to have corrective surgery within the next two years.
That scare sent me looking for alternative approaches. I feel so fortunate to have decided to try Scoliosis Rehab. I must admit that the idea of simply breathing and stretching seemed a little like hocus-pocus at first, but once there, I learned to help correct my posture and what activities to avoid. My new course of exercises and body mechanics has really borne results: my shoulder blade looks almost normal, the fold in my back is far less pronounced, one buttock no longer is lower than its mate, and I am now 5'61/4" inches tall! Although I have not yet returned to the orthopedic surgeon (I hate x-rays), my regular doctor said, "Women your age are usually getting shorter. They don't grow."
My experience at Scoliosis Rehab's Phoenix clinic was life-changing.
I'm a 34-year-old woman, diagnosed with scoliosis (Cobb angle at 50-60 degrees) at age 13 and told by a handful of orthopedic surgeons that I needed surgery. My parents and I decided to try rolfing instead. I've been getting rolfed now for 21 years, and it has kept my scoliosis from getting any worse and from giving me any pain. In the last year, however, I started having so much pain that it was beginning to severely limit what I could do in my life - professionally and socially. I started looking for something I could do on my own every day to take care of my spine, as getting rolfed every 3 months wasn't doing the trick anymore. I wanted to take control of my health and not have to depend on someone else (a rolfer, chiropractor, etc.) to "fix" me when I was in pain (although I still get rolfed and strongly believe in its effectiveness).
Scoliosis Rehab was the answer for me. It gave me the knowledge and exercises that empowered me to build up my strength again and improve my quality of life. Elizabeth Garrett, PT, and Nancy McVeigh, PTA, at the Phoenix clinic are kind, welcoming, and knowledgeable women who took a genuine interest in me as a client and as a person. I appreciated the way they worked with me each day at my own level of ability, addressing my particular case of scoliosis. When they looked at my x-rays before I arrived, they classified my scoliosis one way, but after looking at my back in person, they decided they had to adjust their treatment plan. I really respected their ability to adjust the treatment to what they saw before them, as opposed to only working off of an x-ray. In my week with them, Elizabeth and Nancy always encouraged me to ask questions and voice my concerns. They were great listeners and very thoughtful in their responses to my questions. They were very clear when teaching me my exercises, repeating themselves and having me practice several times, so that I really understood what I needed to do before I left Phoenix. They also took pictures and a video of me doing the exercises to help me remember what to do once I returned home. They taught me exercises to do several times a week and also showed me how best to do my regular daily activities, like walking, sitting, doing dishes, and playing guitar. I was very happy to get to work with both of them, as I had the chance to get two perspectives on my particular situation, rather than just one.
It's been about a month now since I returned home from my trip to Phoenix. I've been doing my exercises nearly every day and trying to be very aware of my body mechanics throughout each day. I'm able to stand and sit for longer periods now without pain, and I feel stronger and more confident in general. And since I've been home, Elizabeth and Nancy have e-mailed me to see how I'm doing. I feel like they have helped me get my life back. I would recommend Scoliosis Rehab's Phoenix clinic to anyone with scoliosis who really wants to be empowered and take control of their health and their life.
Thank you for everything, Elizabeth and Nancy!
SH (adult) Honolulu, HI
Reversing Scoliosis through Schroth and Rigo-Cheneau:
Our Family's Serendipitous Ride
The following paragraphs give an account of our family's rollercoaster ride regarding our adolescent daughter's idiopathic three-curve (C-curve) scoliosis, which, in a nutshell, went from an initially diagnosed 15 degrees, spiked to 34 degrees nine short months later, then plummeted to 18 degrees in a subsequent, less-than-seven-month period, and now measures 15 degrees, though with a slight increase in a high, compensatory cervical curve due to the dramatic reduction of the major thoracic curve. (Balance of the curves produces an end result of core health and symmetry of appearance.) While our ride will continue to be ongoing, we offer this testimonial both to encourage medical professionals in the United States to investigate clinically and scientifically the over eighty-year-old Schroth method of physical therapy and the complementary Rigo System-Cheneau brace, which work together to reduce the ill-effects of scoliosis, and to give hope to patients and parents confronting this ill-understood and physically problematic condition.
During our daughter's twelve-year physical examination in late May 2006, her pediatrician noticed an apparently mild scoliotic curvature. A subsequent (May 23, 2006) x-ray confirmed a three-curve, right thoracic, idiopathic scoliosis that measured about 15 degrees, with a slight compensatory lumbar curvature. Our daughter had experienced a rapid, pre-menarchy growth spurt earlier in that calendar year. Her scoliosis, even at this mild stage, was producing an obvious rib hump, observable rotation and unevenness in the height of her hips, forward protrusion and lowering of her right shoulder, flaring of both scapulas, and offsetting of her rib cage from her hips.
We requested a referral to an orthopedist, who, after indicating that most scolioses do not progress past an unproblematic (but non-invasively uncorrectable) 20 degrees, prescribed the standard medical approach in the U.S. for a mild-measuring curve: simply monitor it for further progression. At our request, however, the highly regarded and very excellent orthopedist provided us with a prescription for a Boston brace, which when fitted corrected our daughter's curve to about 7 degrees and which we had her wear at night when she slept (and when, according to our understanding, children do most of their growing). Since the scoliosis was mild, and since the pediatrician and orthopedist recommended no treatment at that time, we believed we were going the extra mile in trying to prevent an increase in the curvature, but without subjecting our daughter to an unreasonable amount of discomfort or anxiety. In addition, and with the orthopedist's consent (but not recommendation), we made the decision simultaneously to pursue chiropractic treatment for our daughter in the hope of halting the curving. (She was not experiencing any pain associated with the scoliosis.) She received this treatment three times per week for seven weeks.
At the end of August 2006-that is, after three months' worth of part-time bracing and chiropractic treatment-an x-ray showed that our daughter's curve had progressed from about 15 degrees to about 26 degrees. We were alarmed, but the orthopedist was still optimistic that the curvature would not progress further. Our daughter continued to wear the Boston brace at night but did not pursue more chiropractic treatment.
In mid-February 2007 (five and one-half months later), another x-ray showed that her curve had continued to progress and now measured about 34 degrees. As our (by this time) nearly 13-year-old daughter was still pre-menarchy, she clearly had more growth spurts ahead; so we became even more concerned about the trajectory she was on and the rapidity of the curve's progression (from 15 to 34 degrees in just nine months' time-and that with at least some degree of treatment). Our daughter's orthopedist instructed that she wear the Boston brace full time from this point on, and she began to do so. We, wanting to do all we could to avoid her needing surgery, began searching for other approaches to arresting the progression of her scoliosis.
Late one night while surfing the internet, we literally just happened upon the Katharina Schroth method of physical therapy for treating scoliosis and over the next few days "connected the dots" to discover the Rigo System-Cheneau brace, which works in tandem with the Schroth method. The published results from Schroth therapy, used in Europe since the 1920s, coupled with the well-reasoned approach of the Rigo-Cheneau brace, captured our attention, since both the physical therapy and the brace address scoliosis three-dimensionally both to straighten the spine and to derotate it. Our daughter's Boston brace merely squeezed her torso like a corset, severely restricted her breathing, and caused pain; the (much more comfortable) Rigo-Cheneau brace (also a hard plastic brace, but a custom-molded one) is made not only to straighten the spine's side-to-side curvature but also to reduce significantly the twisting of the vertebrae that exacerbates the curving, while building in strategically placed voids to allow the lungs and rib cage to expand when taking in air. These methods (the physical therapy and bracing) seemed to us not only more humane than the watch-and-wait approach and the painfully restrictive Boston bracing, but they also seemed to make eminent sense from a "body-mechanics" point of view. So we approached our daughter's orthopedist with a request for prescriptions for Schroth-method physical therapy and a Rigo-Cheneau brace. Though unconvinced that the methods would produce a better result than the conventional Boston brace worn full time, the orthopedist complied with our request to give the methods a try.
In mid-April 2007, our daughter (still pre-menarchy, with still-immature bones [of a Risser score of 1 or less]) was fitted with a custom-molded Rigo-Cheneau brace, which according to x-rays corrected her 34-degree curve to 10 degrees and began derotating her spine. Mr. Luke Stikeleather, of Orthotic Solutions in Fairfax, Virginia/Rockville, Maryland, made this brace and fitted her with it.
Then, during the first two weeks of May 2007, our daughter received intensive (four hours per day), one-on-one training in an individualized program of Schroth method physical therapy specifically addressing her particular curvature. She received this training primarily from Ms. Beth Janssen, P.T., at Scoliosis Rehab Inc. in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, which opened in 2006 as the first and only clinic in the U.S. currently devoted solely to Schroth-method physical therapy for scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine. (Mrs. Janssen is the second-longest-standing Schroth therapist in the U.S., having received her Schroth certification in 2003 after being trained by Dr. Manuel Rigo, who directs the Schroth clinic in Barcelona, Spain, and who developed the Rigo-System Cheneau brace.)
Our daughter began practicing her 30-60 minute Schroth routine daily after returning home in mid-May and continued to do so on the average of at least six days per week for the first two years. (She now practices this routine every other day). She wore the Rigo-Cheneau brace for an average of 22-23 hours per day for the first two years and removed it only to exercise and to shower. (For this third year, she now wears the brace 16 hours per day and will wean down to 8 hours per day during her fourth year. After she stops growing, she will discontinue wearing the brace but will continue the exercises. Initially, the "prescription" recommended for exercising is usually 30 minutes per day, five days per week, with the wearing of the brace being recommended at about 22 hours per day.)
At our election, our daughter returned to Scoliosis Rehab Inc. in August 2007 (three months after receiving her initial intensive training) for a weeklong refresher class (with three other adolescent scoliosis patients) to ensure that she was doing her exercises correctly, to "tweak" her routine, and to add several advanced exercises to her repertoire. Ms. Patti Orthwein, P.T. (also of Scoliosis Rehab Inc.) and Ms. Janssen conducted these classes.
On November 6, after just over six months of this two-pronged treatment, our daughter's out-of-brace x-ray showed that her scoliosis had not only been arrested but had actually been dramatically reduced-from 34 degrees to just 18 degrees, coupled with significant improvement in the rotational orientation of her vertebrae. Her clinical evaluation by the orthopedist confirmed that the obvious physical assymetry, at its height the preceding February, was also dramatically reduced in every respect (rib humping, unevenness and rotation of the hips, protruding right shoulder, and offsetting of the rib cage from the hips). The orthopedist acknowledged the clear effectiveness of the treatment in our daughter's case and prescribed her continued pursuit of it, while even allowing that the treatment might represent an "innovation" (in the U.S.).
As our daughter has grown some four to five+ inches since receiving her first Rigo-Cheneau brace, she has been fitted twice with new ones, most recently in September 2008. (Incidentally, our insurance company has covered the entire cost of the braces [with prescriptions and an initial letter of medical necessity, the latter provided by her pediatrician] and has also covered the cost of her physical therapy [with the same accompanying documentation].) She will certainly avoid the need for surgery, has dramatically improved the look of her body from the point of view of physical symmetry, and now possesses the tools for maintaining a healthy spine and a strong body able to hold itself in its "corrected" position after the completion of her bracing treatment and physical growth. Her dramatic improvement has bolstered her resolve to continue the treatment, despite the sometimes discouraging challenge (especially to an adolescent girl) of finding clothing that lessens the obviousness of the brace (though the Rigo-Cheneau is less obvious under clothing than the Boston brace) and the seeming drudgery of the daily exercises. (From a parental point of view, our daughter's firsthand experience of the rewards of self-discipline has proven a positive byproduct of this outwardly negative challenge and one that in the future should serve her well in other areas of life.)
On a final note, the Schroth/Rigo-Cheneau approach to treating idiopathic scoliosis seems to us to offer a win-win situation: Compliant and physically responsive patients win by avoiding surgery (more often than not, multiple surgeries) and/or reducing pain and/or lessening assymetries; physicians win by offering hope to patients and parents, who often feel helpless; patients and parents win by having choices for treatment; and insurance companies win through the reduced costs of conservative management (physical therapy and/or short-term orthotics) as compared to invasive treatment (surgery). The keys are, of course, patient compliance and, additionally in adolescents, remaining growth potential and skeletal immaturity at the outset of treatment. While other, undeterminable biological factors may sometimes minimize the effectiveness of the Schroth/Rigo-Cheneau approach despite the presence of these key ingredients in a given patient, the hope and empowerment it offers to those willing to put forth the effort is priceless.
CT (adult) Allison Park, PA