View Full Version : School Screening- A Personal Story

06-23-2005, 01:37 PM
I wrote this article shortly after my college graduation, please read and spread the word!!!

School Screening: A Cure for Scoliosis

Imagine there is a possible cure for an otherwise incurable health condition that can be easily administered in a matter of minutes. This cure can be practiced in schools and has the potential to prevent many young adults from ever having to battle this severe condition.
The reality is that many institutions are not taking advantage of this possible preventative. Instead, many schools have overlooked the problem entirely.
The condition is called scoliosis. The cure is school screening.
Scoliosis is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine, usually a curve of 10 degrees or more, and it affects two to three percent of the U.S. population.
Of every 1,000 children, three to five develop spinal curves that are considered harmful enough to require treatment.
The National Scoliosis Foundation, NSF, reports that infants, adolescents and adults worldwide are impacted by scoliosis and there is no known explanation for developing the condition.
There are different types of scoliosis. The most common type, idiopathic, or side-to-side curvature, develops primarily during the growth spurt of late childhood or early adolescence.
NSF believes that the primary age of onset is between 10 to 15 years old, occurring equally between both genders. However, females are eight times more likely to develop a curve magnitude that requires treatment.
Scoliosis affects the overall quality of life with limited activity, pain, reduced respiratory function, diminished self-esteem and, in some cases, even more harmful effects.
Early detection is the key. If scoliosis is detected at the proper time, there are treatments, such as bracing, that can prevent curve progression and save millions from needing surgical correction.
School screening is the best way to detect scoliosis at the critical age that can make a difference. I know the importance of scoliosis screening personally. In 1996 I was diagnosed at age 13. A few weeks after my scoliosis was detected, I was put in a brace.
With early detection and the right timing, brace treatment could have significantly stopped the progression of my curvature before it was to late.
In my case, however, I was never screened for scoliosis at my east Tennessee elementary or middle school, and though I was braced, my scoliosis quickly progressed past the stage of prevention.
Scoliosis can most often be detected by simply looking for abnormalities such as: uneven shoulders (shoulder blades), uneven waistline, unusual posture or a protruding of the rib cage.
Luckily, some states are now taking appropriate action against scoliosis. Alabama, for instance, has implemented a law that now requires routine scoliosis screening in grades five through nine.
According to State School Nurse Consultant Martha Holloway, school nurses or physical education teachers at all schools in Alabama are administering the screening as instructed.
In 1990 Kentucky passed a resolution recognizing scoliosis as a significant health concern. The Cabinet for Humane Resources and the Department of Education were then directed to develop a screening policy to promote the early diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis.
The Scoliosis Screening Program coordinated by Easter Seals in Louisiana also has a screening policy in place that simply involves the visual observation of 4th through 8th graders.
Many states, however, like Tennessee, still have no school screening policy in place.
The need for schools to take a small step of action to prevent this condition from greatly affecting millions of children in the United States is serious. It is an insignificant course of action that has the potential to make a significant impact.
If you are unaware if your local schools are screening or would like to get more information about scoliosis and school screening policies, please visit the following websites:www.srs.org, or www.scoliosis.org/education.
Following high school, the State of Tennessee Vocational Rehabilitation Department rewarded me with a college scholarship because of my scoliosis. Now, at age 21, I have recently earned my bachelor’s degree in journalism from Auburn University. I cope with my scoliosis condition on a daily basis.
- February 2005 -