new program for scoliosis is first of it's kind
Dayton Children's is the first pediatric hospital in the country to integrate a pro-active three-dimensional exercise program for young scoliosis patients.
If you look at someone’s back, you’ll see that the spine runs straight down the middle. Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature in the spine, often in the shape of a "C" or "S." Signs of scoliosis usually appear between the ages of 10 and 14, just before the onset of puberty, but can also occur later in life. Someone with too much spinal curvature will usually have uneven hips or shoulders (one side is higher than the other) or one shoulder blade that sticks out farther than the other. That is where Pilates exercises come in.
Typically pediatric scoliosis is managed through observation, bracing and surgery, but Dayton Children’s is adding to the treatment options. This fall, the hospital launched a Scolio-Pilates® Center, becoming the first pediatric hospital in the country to integrate a pro-active three-dimensional exercise program for young scoliosis patients.
The founder of Scolio-Pilates® is Karena Thek, owner of Pilates Teck, Inc., and a Pilates instructor, author and international teacher. “Scolio-Pilates came out of a desire to help specific clients with scoliosis as well as trying to heal the pain from my own scoliosis,” says Karena. “I initially created it as an accessible exercise program for managing the condition at home or with an instructor.”
Karena teamed up with Dayton Children's and Ann Smith DPT, MS, PCS, OSC, manager of the orthopaedics physical therapy department, who thought Karena’s progressive approach meshed well with the hospital’s philosophy. “Traditionally in the United States, young patients diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis are treated with a “wait and see” approach,” says Smith. “Our goal is to provide our patients with a dynamic approach to include education, postural and strengthening exercises targeted specifically to their skeletal curve and close monitoring by our orthopedic surgeons to ensure they receive the very best in care.”
Karena worked hard to make the modifications to Pilates exercises both scoliosis user-friendly and kid-friendly, which fit with Dayton Children's integrated team model of making patients comfortable and excited to be in the clinic. For instance, naming the exercises with child friendly names such as “Pirate Pilates,” “Curious Turtle,” “Swinging Monkey Tail,” “Starfish” and “Scolio-Puppy” help connect patients to the exercises in a fun way. “While the names are fun and light-hearted, their intention is serious and highly effective,” says Smith.
Karena is also training the 14 physical therapists at Dayton Children's so that they can continue the program. Last year, Dayton Children's had more than 1,200 encounters with scoliosis listed as the primary diagnosis. Not all patients are candidates for the program, but many will be referred by the orthopedic surgeons on staff. The ideal candidates are:
• Children with curves less than 50-degrees
• Children who are ineligible for surgery
• Children who are preparing for surgery
• Children who are post-operation and cleared for exercise
Based on Dayton Children's current patient load, the team anticipates that they will have 200-300 patients referred the first year for this new program. This will include not only local patients, but patients traveling from outside the area to receive the well-rounded, integrated team approach to scoliosis care that currently they can only find at Dayton Children’s.
“We are looking forward to continuing to build this program to accommodate the growing demand from our patients and their parents,” says Smith. Smith initiated a longitudinal research study to track the results of the Scolio-Pilates® program in children over a long period of time.
If you are interested in seeing if the Scolio-Pilates program might be right for you please schedule an appointment with one of our orthopaedic specialists. The orthopaedics department welcomes phone calls to 937- 641-3010 during our normal business hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday-Friday.