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What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a general term that covers a group of conditions consisting of changes in the shape and position of the spine, thorax, and trunk. The curve can be “functional” in nature, which means that the curve is secondary to causes such as leg length difference, or muscle tone asymmetry. In contrast, the curve can be “structural”, which means that the causes of the curve started in the spine and vertebral changes are noted.

Of the types of structural scoliosis, Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) makes up 80% of these cases. AIS presents in otherwise healthy, typically-developing children and teenagers. It typically develops or progresses during the pre-pubertal growth spurt, as the child gains height in the spine. The cause of AIS is still unknown, but research is showing that it’s likely multifactorial in origin.

There are two main groups of adults with scoliosis. A large proportion of these adults were diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis as children and have now matured with symptoms that intensify in adulthood; the other portion of adults are those who develop scoliosis, called “de novo scoliosis”, due to degenerative spinal changes that occur in the spinal column.

What is Scheuermann's Kyphosis?

Scheuermann’s Kyphosis is characterized by changes in the spine causing a curve from the sideview, resulting in a rounded forward posture. Similarly to scoliosis, these vertebral changes occur mostly during the adolescence, and symptoms can worsen with age.
Conservative management can help with kids, teens, and adults who have Scoliosis or Scheuermann’s Kyphosis. It consists of Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis-Specific Exercises (PSSE) by a Schroth-certified Physical Therapist and Bracing by a Certified Orthotist. Read on to learn more about The ScoliClinic Experience and how we tailor our treatments for each patient population.

What is the Schroth Method?

The Schroth Method is one physical therapy treatment approach for scoliosis and Scheuermann’s Kyphosis under the umbrella of Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis-Specific Exercise (PSSE). This consists of curve-specific exercises to re-train the brain and body to correct the alignment as much as possible, and then strengthen the surrounding musculature in that newly corrected position. The Schroth Method exercises focus on breathing and specific muscle activation to positively affect the shape of the trunk. These exercises are done in a variety of positions and with various pieces of equipment. Read on to see how The Schroth Method is used for Scoliosis or Scheuermann’s Kyphosis.
(from Berdishevsky 2016, and schrothmethod.com)

Is there a cure for scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a change in the shape of the vertebrae that typically occurs during the pre-pubertal growth spurts in adolescence. Unfortunately, there is no cure for scoliosis at this point.

Conservative treatments like physiotherapy and bracing aim to improve posture, strengthen back, shoulder, core, and pelvic muscles, decrease pain, and slow the curve progression as much as possible.

Can my spine become straighter?

It depends! Every scoliosis curve has a structural component, which is determined by the shape of the vertebrae; and a postural component, which is determined by your movement patterns, body awareness, general strength and flexibility, and specific strength in muscles that contribute to posture.

If your curve has a large postural component, then there is a higher potential to make change. The Schroth-certified physiotherapists at The ScoliClinic can work with you to assess your curve and set realistic expectations for physical therapy.

What is the difference between your services compared to other physiotherapy clinics?

Standard Canadian physical therapy curriculums do not teach about the complex 3-dimensional nature of scoliosis. All of The ScoliClinic therapists have been trained in a scoliosis-specific physiotherapeutic approach commonly knowns as The Schroth Method and have dedicated their time to refining their expertise in this area. We’re 100% committed to working with clients with scoliosis and Scheuermann’s Kyphosis – and that’s what sets us apart!

Our Client Coordinators have extensive knowledge about the medical imaging facilities in our province and are able to facilitate the process of obtaining your X-Rays for your therapist to analyze. *Note: some facilities don’t allow third parties to request info, and we’ll let you know if you have to request them/pick them up.

Scoliosis-specific exercises require a specific set up, equipment, appointment structure, and documentation – and we have created the ideal infrastructure for each of our clients to be as successful as possible – watch the video below for an example of exercises that we commonly use.

What happens in the initial assessment?

We want to hear your story. Your initial assessment will start with an in-depth conversation about you (or your child’s) scoliosis history, and the journey that you’ve undergone so far.

Next, The ScoliClinic therapists will do a physical assessment of your spine to take some baseline measures, explaining the significance of what we’re doing every step of the way.

Then, we’ll explain our understanding of scoliosis – theories on how it starts, how it progresses, and where physical therapy fits into the picture.

Finally, based on the findings, your goals and personal circumstances, we’ll come up with a therapy plan that is best for you or your child.

As this first appointment is very detailed, we typically do not have time to start exercises in this first session. Our therapists will analyze all the findings and the X-Ray (if available) to create a custom program for you to start on your second session.

At the end of your appointment, our therapist will communicate your recommended treatment plan to our Client Coordinators at the front desk, and they’ll help you find available session times. Please note that the schedule fills up quickly so we highly recommend to book your initial assessment and at least 4 follow-up appointments upon intake to ensure you solidify your preferred times. If those follow-up sessions aren’t needed, we can always cancel them with minimum 48-hours notice.

I don't have an X-Ray yet. Should I get one, and if so, how?

Although X-Rays do provide a higher level of detail of your spine, it is not necessary to have an X-Ray taken prior to your appointment at The ScoliClinic.  Our therapists are trained to take a detailed physical assessment and can create a curve-specific treatment plan designed for you. There are instances where X-Rays are necessary, and your therapist may discuss this with you.

If you don’t have an Xray yet:

  1. You can go to a Family Physician and inquire if they think an X-Ray is appropriate
  2. You can book an initial assessment with a ScoliClinic Physiotherapist who will complete a screening assessment and provide guidance on if an X-Ray is appropriate for you. If so, you would have to go to a physician to obtain the requisition

If this is your first set of spine X-Rays, we recommend that you obtain BOTH of the following views of your spine:

  • Full Spine PA view including pelvis
  • Full Spine Lateral View

If you have already had an X-Ray taken of your spine:

Please inform the Client Coordinators when booking your appointment of where and when the X-rays were taken.

To access the X-Ray image, we can request them on your behalf for a service fee of $20 + GST, or you can choose to contact the facility and pick them up yourself. Please note there may be a fee involved depending on the facility.

How much does treatment cost?

The cost of your treatment depends on the number of session needed; Our physiotherapists will educate you on all aspects of your treatment to enable your success when outside of the clinic. As of May 1st, 2023 our basic offerings are as follows (see full list of options and prices on our booking site):

Direct time refers to the time you spend with your therapist in session.

Indirect time refers to the time spent after you leave, where the therapist documents your session, writes required letters, updates your home exercise plan, and prepares for your next session.

Your receipts will have the Total Treatment Time listed for submission to any extended benefits providers.

PHYSIOTHERAPY – virtual and in-person options are available:

  • Initial Assessment (75-minutes): $248
  • 30-min Follow-Up (25 min direct, 5 min indirect): $112
  • 60-min Follow-Up (50 min direct, 10 min indirect): $188
  • Scoliosis Screening (25 min direct, 5 min indirect): $124
  • Group Physiotherapy Sessions (virtual & in-person): $60 – please discuss with your Physio if groups are appropriate for you. Check with your benefits provider re: group class coverage.

REGISTERED MASSAGE THERAPY

  • Initial Assessment (75-minutes): $220 inc. GST
  • 45-min Follow-Up (35 min direct, 10 min indirect): $140 incl. GST
  • 60-min Follow-Up (50 min direct, 10 min indirect): $174 incl. GST

We acknowledge that these fees may be challenging for some. Read about the many options on our Financial Support page, or chat to one of our Client Coordinators who will work with you to find a solution.

How many sessions will it take?

This depends on many factors. Our goal is to provide you with the education you need to understand how to perform postural ‘autocorrections’ that are specific to your curve, and how to integrate these principles into your daily life.

As these exercises are complex, we find that this typically takes 6-10 one-on-one sessions with your physiotherapist, but this highly depends on:

  • a presence of pain or discomfort
  • general body awareness and coordination levels
  • your ability to practice home exercises
  • general fitness level

Your physiotherapist strives to be as efficient as possible, so depending on your response to the treatment, you may require fewer treatment sessions than outlined above.

Is it covered by benefits?

Yes! We’re proud to offer direct billing to most extended medical benefits companies. Please bring your plan details with you to your first appointment.

As our clinicians are all Registered Physiotherapists or Registered Massage Therapists, coverage is available depending on your personal plan.

Please note, we require complete payment at the end of your session, including any balances remaining that aren’t covered by your direct billing plan.

If you prefer, you can pay privately using Visa, Mastercard, or Debit, and we will issue an receipt that you can then independently submit for reimbursement.

What payment methods can I use?

We accept debit, Visa and Mastercard.

We do not take Amex at this time.

What is your cancellation policy?

We require a 48 hour notice to cancel or reschedule an appointment, regardless of reason. Otherwise, a cancellation fee of 60% of the original appointment fee will be applied.

What should I wear to my appointments?

It is ideal if our therapists can see the majority of you back, shoulders, and pelvis alignment to provide accurate cues while you exercise.

We recommend that clients wear fitted clothing, with a sports bra (where applicable) and leggings or tighter fitted shorts or pants. Please be prepared to tie long hair up in a bun. You can also bring a tight, plain and light-coloured tank top to wear over your sports bra.

During COVID-19, masks will be mandatory during all treatment sessions (for both you and your therapist). We request that you bring your own mask to your appointment. Alternately, we will have disposable and reusable fabric masks available for purchase.

Is there parking?

VANCOUVER:
Yes! We have plenty of free 1 hour street parking along Main Street. If you’re staying longer, there’s unrestricted parking on 51st Ave.

SURREY:
Yes! We have a few parking stalls labeled ‘HODGSON’, as well as plenty of street parking.

NORTH VANCOUVER:
Yes! There is plenty of free 1 or 2 hour street parking.