2019 SOSORT was the 14th international meeting of the Scientific Society of Scoliosis Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Treatment (“SOSORT”). This year’s location was in the heart of San Franciscos’s bustling downtown. Educational courses, research presentations and highlighted speakers were scheduled in rapid succession. Susan Henning, Lisa Mangino and Molly Miller were in attendance, representing Advance Physical Therapy, at this comprehensive meeting of doctors, orthotists and physical therapists from all over the world.
The recent, rapid growth of SOSORT, now close to 400 members, reflects an increasing awareness of the challenges faced by patients diagnosed with exaggerated curvatures of the spine and by their families. The aim of the society is to understand all aspects of scoliosis in order to provide the best non-operative care, based on the most current research. Most doctors in the US still practice the “wait and see “ approach with scoliosis. However, for SOSORT participants, it is clear that early diagnosis and intervention offers the best possibility to halt or reverse curvatures.
Poster presentations by a number of clinicians demonstrated dramatic successes at curve correction with adherence to scoliosis specific exercise and/or bracing treatments. Some takeaway highlights for me from this year’s presentations include:
- Earlier detection and treatment of spinal curvature is recommended to obtain optimal results. School screening programs were found to be effective for identifying children at risk.
- Predictive models are becoming more accurate at estimating the likelihood of curve progression. Relevant factors include age, Risser or Sanders score, curve magnitude at the time of diagnosis.
- Bracing is now also being considered for older patients with pain concerns.
- Bracing designs continue to evolve for better outcomes and greater comfort.
- Patients with scoliosis may benefit from counseling to help them minimize stresses related to scoliosis and its treatments. This may improve empowerment in self care and self help efforts.
- Engagement in frequent and regular sport activity has again been confirmed as a positive component in helping to minimize curve progression for many young people. However, sports is not a treatment, it is important as fitness. Specific sports have not yet been assessed for their relative benefit.
- Front to back or Sagittal Plane imbalance (ie: exaggerated sway back, exaggerated rounding of the back) is increasingly recognized as a contributor to scoliosis progression. Sagittal plane correction is now more often included in treatment. Our clinic has long considered Sagittal plane correction to be an important first step in physical therapy treatment of scoliosis.
We appreciated the wealth of information as well as the interesting and fun networking enabled by this conference. We learned from many and had opportunities to share our approach with other conference participants. Now, back at home, our work is enriched by this experience.