We often speak to prospective patients who have tried other non-surgical exercise-based treatments for scoliosis to no avail. Below, we highlight salient differences between ScoliSMART and Schroth:
Developed in the 2000s.
Developed in the 1920s in Germany. Only recently introduced to practitioners in the United States.
Cause & Cure
How do corresponding practitioners view scoliosis? How one understands or sees scoliosis informs treatment approach.
Views neuro-hormonal condition as cause and cure.
The ScoliSMART doctors consider the interconnectedness of the whole body, including the brain, spinal cord tension, spinal bone over growth, and hormones and their role in scoliosis gene expression.
Views repetitive motions as treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
How current is the approach with latest research findings?
Latest understanding of condition and research has led to a comprehensive scoliosis diagnostic and treatment solution tailored for different segments of the population:
- Scoliosis Activity Suit
- Adolescent and adult treatment options
- Genetic testing
- Neurotransmitter testing
- Hormonal testing
- Scoliosis-specific isometric core stabilization
Theory and protocols remain relatively unchanged. Note: Clinical approach in Europe differs from that of the United States. In the US, due care should be taken to ensure you are in capable and experienced clinical hands.
Long-Term Goals of Treatment
- Improves posture and scoliotic deformity
- Re-trains brain on holding spine straight
- Stabilizes spine
May reduce pain and improve some breathing function.
How It Works
Correction (outcome) is controlled by the patient’s nervous system.
Spinal correction is attained by involuntary response. By stimulating the intrinsic deeper muscle layers of the spine and influencing how the brain is programming these muscles, ScoliSMART creates an involuntary response to external stimuli, which leads to spinal adaptation over time and changes in the spine’s static alignment — permanently.
Activates involuntary muscles, primarily intrinsic small body muscles via:
- Subconscious body shift
- Vestibular component
- Neurotransmitter component
- Static and dynamic auto response training
Spinal de-rotation attained via use of the ScoliSMART Activity Suit.
Temporary spinal improvements lost soon after patient fails to hold forced artificial postural position. Necessitates conscious body awareness by the patient using repetitive 3D positional movement, stretching, and breathing.
Activates only voluntarily controlled spinal “movement” muscles, not automatically controlled spinal alignment muscles.
Ease of Use
User-friendly — time-efficient and simple to replicate at home on your own.
Not user-friendly — time-consuming and complex.
Most Common Complaints
Most frequent negative feedback from medical professionals, parents, and patients.
- Lack of long-term outcome research
- Lack of compliance due to loss of interest by patient
- Physical/Financial commitment until child stops growing
- Haphazard Schroth roll-out in United States
- Schroth-provider training in the US is light and hurried (e.g. weekend certifications)
- Timing and scope of Schroth practices in the US differ from that of Europe
- In the US, a variety of Schroth flavors have cropped up (i.e. providers practicing their own brand of “Schroth exercises”
- Exercises “not replicable at home”
- Child had a hard time doing home exercise
- Required great body awareness at all times
- “I lacked confidence in knowing we were doing the movement exercises right”
- Customized and tailored for ages 6 to 65+
- Customized and tailored for curves ranging from 10 to 70+ degrees
Given the non-user-friendly constraints, best suited for body-aware adults.
Given ScoliSMART doctors’ comprehensive understanding of the scoliosis condition and our years of dedicated clinical experience, we make the following observations about Schroth:
We do not understand how scoliosis, a neuro-hormonal condition, will be treated effectively by simply focusing on the symptom of the disease through conscious repetitive 3D-positional movement, stretching, and breathing. We believe this solely physical approach fails to engage the spinal control centers, which are needed to cause an adaptive response.
Furthermore, in targeting primarily extrinsic and large body “movement muscles,” the Schroth method lacks the capacity to create changes to the deeper layer (intrinsic) muscles that influence rotation — particularly in the apical regions where growth progression occurs.
By dismissing latest research and findings on the effects of hormones and scoliosis, the Schroth method fails to create the proper neurological recruitment necessary to make any substantial (permanent) changes in Cobb measurements or apical rotation.
While it’s likely that Schroth — an exercise-based, voluntary movement theory method — would result in functional gains, pain reduction, improved breathing, and altered global posture, it fails to deliver substantive significant measurable outcomes, especially in growing kids.
The effectiveness of outcomes depends largely on the type of exercise and its capacity to create spinal adaptation. This is not even taken into consideration ease of replicating that exercise in one’s own home. Based on feedback from our patients — namely that Schroth requires a great deal of body awareness and consciousness all the time — we feel it is very complex and time consuming for an adult, let alone a growing child.
We hope this article helps explain key differences in ScoliSMART vs. Schroth and leaves you in a position to ask better questions, get better answers, and make informed, confident choices about how and with whom you and your family journeys with scoliosis.
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