Every year in June, National Scoliosis Awareness Month highlights the growing need for education, early detection and awareness about scoliosis and its prevalence. Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to abnormally curve sideways. Although many people have not heard of the condition it is surprisingly common, impacting infants, adolescents and adults of all races, classes and all genders. Approximately one out of every six children diagnosed with scoliosis will have a curve that requires active treatment, sometimes involving surgery. Early diagnosis is the key to taking important first steps to providing treatment that may prevent more serious problem. Only two-thirds of states mandate or recommend scoliosis screening in schools, so it is important that friends and family members learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of the condition and know that help from their doctor is available.
Currently, UVA is involved in three different studies involving scoliosis in the pediatric population. One is the largest prospective study for Idiopathic (unknown cause) Scoliosis in the country. The purpose of this study is to analyze the outcomes of surgical treatment of idiopathic scoliosis over time. We are following patients for 20 years post operatively to obtain information as to the long term effects of spinal fusion. There are currently over 5,500 patients enrolled in this study and UVA is one of 14 participating research sites. Our second study is one in which we are also analyzing the outcomes of surgical treatment of idiopathic scoliosis of children with cerebral palsy. We are following these patients for 20 years as well. The global impact of this study is significant as it is producing answers to important clinical questions in this medically fragile patient population. Lastly, we are participating in a study with the University of Iowa. This study involves patients diagnosed with infantile scoliosis and examining if bracing verses casting treatment is more effective in preventing the progression of the curve.