As June wraps up it's national scoliosis awareness month over 134,000 people in Colorado suffer with Scoliosis yet many may not be aware of this painful condition. One doctor I learned of here in Colorado takes a non-mainstream approach to treating Scoliosis.
4 year old Addison Pickruhn has had more than her share of challenges in life. When she was born she weighed just 5 pounds. She had club feet and other health issues. Then at the age of 1, her mom Bridgett was told that Addison had Scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine. Traditional treatment options for Scoliosis generally include wearing a brace, surgery, or a combination of both. Addison's mom Bridgett choose to pursue an alternative treatment out of the main stream.
Bridgett Pickruhn approached Dr. Jane Leavell, who has a Doctorate in Chiropractic, and is with the Rhino Scoliosis Clinic in Denver. Dr. Jane says she has been taking a different approach to treating the condition for the last 16 years.
Dr. Jane says "many times when someone has a hammer, everything is a nail. Many surgeons are focused on how to make surgery better, and brace makers have in their mind to make a better brace. My goal was neither, my goal was to help kids avoid both of those options so we just started trying different things, until we saw success and now we have a great pattern." That pattern includes neuro muscular re-education, balance training, strengthening the core muscles, and more. Treatment begins in clinic with Dr. Jane and then continues for patients - like Addison - on their own.
Dr. Jane explains one exercise Addison performs. "We have an exercise where she stands on a soft disk, with a weight around her that helps shift her body position. Because her posture is point one way, the weight shifts her posture back to the center. That makes her more stable and gravity won't increase the curve of her spine as fast."
Addison says of the weighted exercise "this big thing is the hardest, it's so heavy I can't get it to move anything."
Dr. Jane says she has worked with over a thousand patients. At the age of 4, Addison who lives in Colorado Springs is one of the youngest patients Dr. Jane has worked with. Dr. Jane says "Addy is a bright young lady and is very cooperative, and if that were not the case I would not be able to work with someone her age. In fact I was considering if we should work with her or not at first, but because of her cooperation and her willingness to do exercises, I really felt like we could give her a chance at some years without have to wear the cast and have a normal childhood"
Her youthful approach to the hard work helps Addison focus on the simple joys, of just being a kid. She says of her therapy “We play together, all day long."
How Scoliosis affects individuals can vary, as can the treatment approach that's most appropriate. As with any medical condition if you have any questions about Scoliosis the best place to start is with your family physician. Treatment that is not mainstream may not be effective or appropriate for some people, and should be considered carefully on a case by case basis.