**This post, while geared toward practitioners, will also be very beneficial to the entire scoli community, so read on and share with your practitioner.
The most beneficial thing in my scoli toolkit is a scoliometer. I use it almost daily on each of my scoli clients. As a practitioner, it gives me immediate feedback on the beginning state of my clients’ scoli so I know how to structure their individual session. This led me to create The Scoliometer by Spiral Spine, our very own scoliometer app.
At the end of each client session, I use the scoliometer again so I can measure how well their scoli may have responded to the lesson. If their ribcage rotation significantly decreased on the scoliometer, that means the session was a success. If their rotation only decreased slightly, I know I have to give my client exercises to do at home, as I was unable to get their scoli to fully unwind.
Because I track every client’s back with a scoliometer before and after each session, I have years of data on some of my clients which helps me identify trends in their rotation.
For example: One of my clients whom I’ve been seeing for years is currently in high school. We’ve noticed that when she’s having her period or when it’s exam time at school, her rotation will be three to four degrees higher than her norm. On the other hand, during school breaks or when she has done other recent therapies (like a yoga or Pilates class, acupuncture, or structural integration therapy) her rotation is two to three degrees less than her norm. These measurements at the beginning and end of every session help me know where her scoli lives when it’s happy versus when it’s wound up.
Now, I need you to know that the goal isn’t to get the scoliometer reading down to zero. Once you’ve been tracking one’s scoli for a while, you’ll begin to see a numerical range that is their norm. They may come in with their major curve rotating to eight or nine degrees and leave with their rotation at four or five degrees. So, if they come in with their rotation at 14 degrees one day, you’ll need to do some serious work on unwinding them during that lesson. You’ll also need to help them figure out what they did that week to determine the cause of the increased rotation, and keep a close eye on their scoli over the next few weeks.
Research shows that one’s Cobb Angle (measured by an X-ray, and technically how scoliosis is diagnosed and diagnostically tracked by their doctor) and vertebral rotation (which can be measured by a scoliometer) are positively correlated[i]. Meaning, if you measure a client’s back with your Scoliometer by Spiral Spine app before and after a session and notice a decrease in degree, you know your client’s scoliosis most likely got a little straighter. The scoliometer is a great tool for you to have in your toolkit to make sure you are helping, and not hurting, your clients with scoliosis.
I’ve included a downloadable PDF document you can print for yourself, or your scoli clients, and place in their client folders. This is just like the one I’ve used for years to track my clients’ scoliometer readings. You can find this below or on the Spiral Spine Products page so that you can revisit and print it off when you need them.
[i] Morrison DG et al. Correlation between Cobb angle, spinous process angle (SPA) and apical vertebrae rotation (AVR) on postereoanterior radiographs in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Eur Spine J. 2015 Feb; 24(2):306-12