It’s Scoliosis Awareness Month and what a better way to spread the word about scoli than to warn you that the world could be looking at getting a lot more scoli diagnoses starting in August.
You’ve probably heard about the Zika virus and the controversy over holding the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this year. You also probably know that the major concern with Zika is babies end up with brain damage when pregnant women are bitten by infected mosquitos. The major news focus is on the baby, not the adult.
Guillain-Barré is a syndrome that affects both muscles and nerves. It strikes the nervous system and causes significant muscle weakness.
Neuromuscular scoliosis is the form of scoli that results from Guillain-Barré.
In a scoliosis workshop I taught last year one of the scoli attendees had Guillain-Barré syndrome, which is where her scoli stemmed from. Guillain-Barré as a cause for scoliosis suddenly became very real to me as I worked with her and her scoliosis.
This was a beautiful woman in her mid-20s. Guillain-Barré left her with neuromuscular scoliosis, joint laxness, and muscular weakness. Luckily, a few year prior, she had found a great Pilates instructor who had helped her immensely by strengthening her muscles. Her scoli, however, will be with her for the rest of her life.
The Olympics has seen its fair share of people with scoliosis, like Usain Bolt and Natalie Coughlin (who does Pilates with fellow Balanced Body faculty member Tom McCook), but they had scoli before going to the Olympics, and it wasn’t caused by the Zika virus.
I LOVE the Olympics – I’m admittedly a bit of a junkie. What isn’t there to love about seeing the world’s best athletes compete and set new world records? For me there isn’t anything better than to see the human body perform athletic feats often never accomplished before.
It would be such a travesty to see those amazing athletes get scoliosis because they went to the Olympics this year. To bring half a million people from all over the world to a Zika infected country is ridiculous. Then, to send those people back to their home countries, possibly infected with Zika, which they could transmit to other people is simply unwise.
Is it a sure-fire thing that people going to the Olympics will get bitten by a Zika-infected mosquito, develop Guillain-Barré syndrome, and then get neuromuscular scoliosis? Of course not. Is it a real possibility that will happen to some people? Yes.
For that reason, in honor of Scoliosis Awareness Month, my vote is to dramatically increase education efforts of the athletes and attendees at this summer’s Olympics. Infection with the Zika can be prevented.
What are your thoughts on this summer’s Rio Olympics, the Zika virus, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and scoliosis? Did you know that one could lead to the other?
 Cao-Lormeau V-M, Blake A, Mons S, et al. Guillain-Barré Syndrome outbreak associated with Zika virus infection in French Polynesia: a case-control study. Lancet 2016; 387:1531-39.
 Brasil, P, Sequeira PC, Freitas AD, Zogbi HE, et al. Guillain-Barré syndrome associated with Zika virus infection. Lancet 2016;387:1482.