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6/2/21 blog post

how Scolio-Pilates® is changing the game for spine patients

Affecting more than 100,000 children in the United States each year, scoliosis, or the abnormal curvature of the spine, is just one condition that Dayton Children’s is attempting to prevent in young children. The comprehensive spine team at Dayton Children’s includes orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, a nurse navigator and physical therapists specialized in orthopedic rehabilitation. Each caregiver plays an important role, serving each child’s individual needs and getting them back to normal activities quickly and safely.

As part of our spinal and scoliosis program, Dayton Children’s offers a therapy program called Scolio-Pilates®, which is led by specially trained orthopedic rehab physical therapists. This exercise program combines Pilates movements with therapy exercises to help with:

  • Elongation of the spine and posture
  • Corrective breathing techniques
  • Corrective placement towards spine neutral
  • Strengthening

For National Scoliosis Awareness Month, we sat down with Ann Smith, PT, DPT, PCS, OCS, director of orthopedic rehabilitation at Dayton Children’s, to learn more about how physical therapists care for scoliosis patients and the benefits of Scolio-Pilates®.


How do physical therapists work with scoliosis patients?
Physical therapists have long-known the benefits of exercise for scoliosis patients. Physical therapists are trained to carefully evaluate patients and design an individualized program that will address improving flexibility, strength, coordination, balance and aesthetics. Our European colleagues have embraced the concept of Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis-Specific Exercises (PSSE) as an essential part of the treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis for many years and this concept is now being embraced in the United States.

What is Scolio-Pilates® and how does it benefit scoliosis patients?
The Scolio-Pilates® program is a three-dimensional exercise program, tailored to the individual and their specific spinal curve, as a proactive treatment during observation and bracing phases. We also incorporate many of the exercises into working with our post-operative patients. Exercises focus on spinal elongation with postural control, breathing techniques, spinal positioning and strengthening. 

Benefits of the program include improved postural awareness, strength, endurance and breathing capacity. The goal is to establish exercise independence with each patient, so that they may perform these postural corrections throughout their day. We encourage our patients to perform postural correction exercises throughout the day, at school or at home.

What is the typical length of physical therapy treatment for scoliosis patients?
Patients work directly with our physical therapists throughout the program, starting off weekly, then progressing to monthly maintenance as they are being monitored by our orthopedic surgeons.  The number of sessions is different for each patient, but our scoliosis patients are usually seen an average of 10-12 visits.

What is unique about Dayton Children’s approach/treatment of scoliosis patients?
Dayton Children’s is the first hospital to receive training and adapt Scolio-Pilates® for our scoliosis patients. Our team of orthopedic rehabilitation therapists have received training in this approach, and two our physical therapists have received advanced training and are currently involved in scoliosis research projects.    

One final thought
Our orthopedic rehabilitation team works closely with all of our spine surgeons to ensure optimal care for our patients. Several of our therapists have received advanced training in scoliosis and are board certified in orthopedics and pediatric physical therapy. We now have five locations to serve our patients throughout the Miami Valley, including our main campus, south campus, Beavercreek, Kettering and Troy.

the unique role helping spine patients at Dayton Children's

Few children’s hospitals see as many patients with scoliosis as the orthopedic center at Dayton Children’s. Our spine nurse navigator acts as the liaison throughout a patient's spine surgery journey.

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