The Schroth method helps patients with scoliosis and kyphosis (backbones that curve too much from the center to the right or left, or backward). Schroth exercises can help improve these curves and keep them from getting worse — without surgery
What is the Schroth Method?
Scoliosis is a three-dimensional spine deformity that causes the spine and ribs to rotate – which in turn, causes rib prominences and flatter areas throughout the back and trunk. The Schroth method (also called physiotherapeutic scoliosis specific exercises) helps kids and teens use exercises and breathing techniques to improve these curves to improve their alignment.
Patients learn a series of breathing, stretching and strengthening exercises in five different positions (laying on their back, sides, on hands and knees, sitting and standing). These exercises support the spine into an improved postural position, help improve rib prominences and flatter areas, and strengthen the muscles to maintain that posture.
What are the benefits of the Schroth Method?
The Schroth method is a non-surgical treatment for kids and teens with spinal curves greater than 10 degrees. It’s especially effective when patients are still growing. We create a unique treatment for each patient and their specific type of curve.
Some patients won’t need surgery to correct their spinal curve: We can use the Schroth method or a combination of this method and bracing to improve their condition.
If a patient needs surgery or has had it already, the Schroth method can help reduce pain, keep their core and back strong, and even improve heart and lung function with the specific breathing techniques.
Spinal curves can be frustrating for kids, and they often feel like there’s nothing they can do. The Schroth method can change that, and many patients enjoy knowing that they can take action to improve their condition.
What are the side effects of the Schroth Method?
The Schroth method is very safe, and all of the exercises are done in a neutral spine position. Patients need to commit to doing their exercises, usually 30-45 minutes at least three to four days per week, for this therapy to be the most effective. They can do these exercises at our clinic and at home.
Our physical therapists will ensure patients and their families know exactly how and when to do the exercises. The treatments in the clinic are one-on-one in a private exercise room. Parents are welcome in all PT Schroth sessions as this treatment is educational for kids and parents alike.
What can I expect with the Schroth Method?
Your child’s orthopedic doctor will connect them with a physical therapist who will explain how the procedure will work. Doctors and physical therapists work closely together, to monitor each child’s progress throughout the process.
Patients typically will come for 10 to 14 treatments, to practice their exercises and learn new ones to do at home. We’ll schedule these weekly appointments around your schedule, to make it as easy as possible to keep up with the therapy. After the first 10 to 14 sessions, patients will come in every month or two for follow-ups and progressions.
What can I expect before the Schroth Method?
Before we start therapy, patients will typically get X-rays using our advanced EOS X-ray machine. This machine takes 3D pictures of each patient's spine, using the lowest possible amount of radiation. This will give doctors and physical therapists a detailed picture of your spine, and help them shape your personal physical therapy plan.
What can I expect during the Schroth Method?
During the first appointment, usually about 90 minutes long, physical therapists teach patients about how the method works, educate them on their unique curve type and take measurements and photos of their spine and posture. Our team will talk families through what the process will look like and teach initial breathing exercises and postural alignment.
Our physical therapists customize the exercises to help each patient’s spinal alignment and posture for improved mobility throughout the day. For example, if the spine has a curve in the shape of an S with the upper back curved to the right and the lower back to the left, patients will learn exercises that help align the top of their spine towards the left, and the bottom of their spine towards the right from a midline (neutral) pelvic position.
After the first appointment, patients will have an hour-long appointment at our clinic one to two times per week for about 10 to 14 visits. We also give patients exercises to practice at home between appointments.
Throughout this process, patients meet with their orthopedic doctors to monitor their progress. The doctor coordinates closely with physical therapists, to discuss each patient's progress and make any needed changes to the therapy plan.
Some patients may need to wear a brace in addition to their Schroth treatment (usually during patients’ growth periods). Each patient’s orthopedist will monitor this as they grow. Our physical therapists will create custom plans for these patients, and one hour of scoliosis exercises counts as one hour of their brace wearing time.
What can I expect after the Schroth Method?
After initial treatment, patients will continue their exercises at home and have follow-up appointments every one to four months with their physical therapist and orthopedic physician. We’ll coordinate these visits with appointments with your orthopedic doctor. How long each patient will need to do these exercises depends on their age and how severe their curve is.
How do I prepare my child for the Schroth Method?
The Schroth method takes time and dedication, but makes a big difference for kids and teens with spinal curves. Before starting treatment, be sure to talk to your child about what to expect and answer any questions they have using words they understand. Our team is happy to help you do this and ensure your kid or teen knows what to expect.
What questions should I ask my provider about the Schroth Method?
- Is this the only therapy my child will need or will it be in conjunction with other therapies?
- If we’re coming from out of town, can we modify the treatment schedule to make coming to Children’s Health easier?
- Does my child need to change their activities (sports, dance, play) while undergoing the Schroth method?
Schroth Method Doctors and Providers
Mary Hegarty, MPT, SCS, Schroth C-1 Physical Therapist