A couple weeks ago, my family spent a week at Spinal Dynamics, in Milwaukee, WI doing primarily Schroth but also some SEAS physical therapy training for my daughters’ scoliosis.
For those who may not know, Schroth and SEAS (Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis), as far as my research shows, are the preeminent physical therapy methodologies used, worldwide, for “conservative” treatment of scoliosis, used in conjunction with bracing, to help arrest scoliosis progression and avoid fusion surgery.
We worked with a physical therapist named Peter Arndt for 6 hours per day for 5 days. It’s what they call their immersion program. There’s a lot to say about this, particularly for others who may be considering trying Scroth or SEAS physical therapy for scoliosis, so please bear with me as I expect to write multiple blog entries on this topic in the coming weeks.
About the intensity of the immersion program, I think they may typically only do 5 hours per day but I told them in advance I wanted to be aggressive and that my girls were well conditioned from both heavy and regular core exercises, that I already had them doing for the last few months, and cross-country running. I don’t say any of this to brag about our preparedness but only to give the reader a “heads up” that these exercises take a lot of strength and endurance if you do them right. Normally, for people who live close to the therapy provider, they just do a couple to a few hours per week over a longer period of time. These “crash courses” are for people who don’t have that luxury of convenient location.
Still, this was a tough week and the girls were definitely spent by the end of it. It helped a lot that we had planned to get new puppies on the way home, and also planned a mid-week celebration by going to Dave and Buster’s on Wednesday evening.
It also helped that I read “Three Dimensional Treatment for Scoliosis” beforehand. It’s not an easy (or pleasant) read, and you should really have Google handy to look up medical terms as you go, but it’s worth it.
There are other locations where you can find Schroth therapists but Spinal Dynamics and Scoliosis Rehab, both located in Wisconsin, are the most highly reputed in the US. Both actually provide Schroth training to other therapists. I chose Spinal Dynamics because they were the only one where the therapists had SEAS as well as Schroth certifications. And, Peter, in particular, is a DPT. After the fact, I’d say I didn’t find as much value in the SEAS aspect as I had hoped, so there’s less to distinguish one vs. the other provider. If considering traveling to Wisconsin for therapy, I’d recommend checking out both Spinal Dynamics and Scoliosis Rehab, and considering their slightly different “immersion” programs, before making up your mind. For our part, I can tell you we are extremely happy with the training we received from Peter at Spinal Dynamics and all they did to put the girls at ease and help us get through such an intense week.
There’s much more to be said about Schroth, SEAS, and the idea of using physical therapy to combat progressive scoliosis. But, for now, I’m going to leave you with these thoughts on why we went.
The goals for the week were for my daughters to learn to perform the exercises and for me to learn to coach and correct them when they lapse into doing them incorrectly. If you’re a parent reading this, you need to know the immersion week is as much about you as your child. You must learn how to coach the proper techniques to make sure the exercises are done consistently and correctly.
The goal of the therapy is, of course to help halt the progression of the scoliosis, particularly through the growth years. In our case, our twin daughters are 12 and are in their peak growth time. The next two years are critical.
More details to come…
Disclaimer: I am not, in any way, medically trained and you should seek professional medical advice before making any decisions based on information found here.