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Physical Therapy for Scoliosis

Physical therapy scoliosis specific exercise (PSSE), is a conservative treatment for scoliosis. It uses exercises customized for your child to reduce the symptoms of scoliosis. This nonsurgical approach can involve both bracing and physical therapy. If a Gillette orthopedic spine specialist recommends a brace for your child, an orthotist who specializes in the spine will evaluate and fit your child for a custom spinal brace.

As part of your treatment, a Gillette physical therapist trained in the Barcelona Scoliosis Physical Therapy School (BSPTS) Schroth Based Method will evaluate your child and develop an individualized plan using scoliosis-specific exercises.

Physical therapy goals for children who have scoliosis include the following:

  • Improve muscle strength
  • Decrease trunk imbalance and improve posture
  • Decrease pain (if present) and learn self-management techniques for pain
  • Provide education and techniques to decrease forces that may contribute to progression of the curve

The overall goal of physical therapy exercises is to help your child independently control their posture. The exercises are not meant to replace bracing, but to compliment the benefits that your child receives from a brace.  


Who Benefits from Physical Therapy for Scoliosis?

At Gillette, physical therapy using scoliosis-specific exercises can help patients who are 10 years of age and older, have adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, and have a curve approximately 20 degrees or greater.


What to Expect During Physical Therapy for Scoliosis

First, a Gillette orthopedic spine specialist will refer your child for treatment for scoliosis. Next, your child will undergo a physical therapy exam where a physical therapist will review your child’s medical history and X-ray images.

During the evaluation, we’ll look at your child’s:

  • Range of motion
  • Strength
  • Functional mobility
  • Posture
  • Lung function
  • Pain

Finally, the therapist will create a customized treatment plan based on your child’s curve, the physical exam and your child’s goals.

Physical therapy sessions are typically scheduled for 60 minutes two times per week for one month, then one time per week for three months. The sessions will focus on stretching, strengthening, posture corrections, breathing techniques and education specific to your child’s curve.  The therapist will also create a customized plan for doing exercises at home.


Your Care Team

Appointments are scheduled 1-2 times per week for 3-6 months determined by the evaluating therapist, participating patient, and their family at the end of each evaluation. Each plan is individualized to the unique needs of the patient.  

Virtual appointments are available in certain situations. For returning patients who have been through the program, evaluation, treatment and discharge can be completed virtually if patient and family prefer this option. There is also opportunity to do a combination of in-person treatment and virtual treatment.   

For new patients who have not been through the program before, evaluation will need to be completed in person. A plan can be put in place to utilize a combination of in-person and virtual appointments. 

At this time, we are unable to offer virtual services across state lines. The patient must participate in their therapy session in the state of MN due to licensing requirements.  A caregiver may need to be present for part or all of the treatment session to ensure proper positioning of the video during a virtual visit. 

Physical therapy scoliosis specific exercise post-surgery: Scoliosis specific exercise can be a great option following surgery to work on body awareness, balance, and strength. 

Good candidates for therapy following surgery: trunk imbalance, unfused lumbar curve, difficulty with pain management, those who will be returning to high level sport at the 6-8 month point. 

Therapy is not required following surgery but is an option for those who may need or want it. 

Our post-op scoliosis specific exercise program is only located at our Phalen location at this time. 


Contact Us to Learn More

Contact us to learn more about physical therapy for scoliosis at Gillette.