Early intervention for Scoliosis provides best outcomes

August means back to school, back to homework and back to in-school health screenings. Remember those tests where they line everyone up and check things like hearing and eyesight to see who might need glasses? Or the health screening where everyone bends over and someone checks everyone’s spine? What does that test identify and how is it related to Dixie Regional’s neuroscience program?

That test, known as the Adam’s Forward Bending Test, is routinely given in schools to adolescents between the ages of 10 and 13. The test is given to monitor for scoliosis.

According to Jotham Manwaring, a neurosurgeon at Intermountain Southern Utah Neurosciences Institute, scoliosis is a medical condition that affects the alignment of the spine and most often presents during adolescence. The Scoliosis Research Society supports the screening of adolescents for this progressive, deforming condition. Early intervention provides the best outcomes.

Scoliosis is fairly uncommon. When it does occur, it worsens during the adolescent growth spurt and it occurs more often in females. In a very small percentage of the population, scoliosis is present at birth. For an even smaller percentage of the population, scoliosis is the result of a more serious, underlying, neuromuscular condition. In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown and it is a correctable condition.

“If untreated, scoliosis may continue to progress,” Manwaring explained. “Every year the curve of a spine with scoliosis will continue to curve more. The resulting curvature over a lifetime would be very deforming and can eventually affect the heart and lungs. As research and spine surgery have become more technologically advanced, we are now able to prevent the progression of the curvature of a spine.”

The simple forward bending test performed in schools and physician offices often first identifies scoliosis. Young people with more than 10 percent of a curve in the spine are then usually referred to a neuro specialist. X-rays and sometimes an MRI help confirm the diagnosis.

“Screening is invaluable,” stressed Manwaring. “Screening allows us to identify scoliosis and intervene in a more effective and timely manner. We are able to follow and observe the patient as he or she continues to grow. About one third of adolescents with scoliosis may require a brace. If they can stay in a brace until they are done growing, they may not ever need surgery.”

Surgery as a treatment option for scoliosis has changed considerably in the last several years. Major fusing of the spine vertebrae used to be a common surgical treatment to prevent curve progression. Current surgical treatments for scoliosis have a less invasive emphasis and thus allow adolescents to remain more physically active into adulthood.

Manwaring has experience with these new forms of spine surgery. “One of the new scoliosis surgery options involves tiny screws and tethers,” said Manwaring. “Bones are tied, or tethered together while the patient goes through their adolescent growth spurt. This is proving to be an excellent surgical treatment option for younger adolescents with scoliosis.”

With the arrival of Manwaring and his particular skill set, Dixie Regional’s neuroscience program is looking forward to having fully integrated scoliosis care available in the near future. Pediatricians and primary care physicians will be specially trained to identify and refer scoliosis patients. Orthotists will be available to fit and care for patients with a scoliosis brace. If surgery is required, state-of-the-art surgical and post-operative care will be available for patients 14 years and older.

“This new improved access to neuro care,” said Manwaring, “will do great things for our community as a whole. Scoliosis patients will be able to receive great care close to home.” These new neuroscience services will be of special benefit to those with scoliosis just as the forward bending test is a valuable part of the school year.

This LiVe Well column represents collaboration between healthcare professionals from the medical staffs of our not-for-profit Intermountain Healthcare hospitals and The Spectrum. Contact 251-2108 for more information.

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Source: Early intervention for Scoliosis provides best outcomes

Via: Google Alert for Neuroscience