Does Schroth really work?

Evidence on the effect of Schroth exercises

Here, at Curvy Spine, we are proud to say that the most important evidence on the effect of Schroth exercises on outcomes in scoliosis come from the PhD work of Sanja Schreiber, the owner of Curvy Spine. 

Sanja devoted most of her life to treating children and adults with spinal deformities. She became a certified ISST Schroth scoliosis therapist in 2008 after being trained at the “Asklepios – Katharina Schroth Klinik” for spinal deformities in Bad Sobernheim, Germany. Subsequently, she received her MSc in Sports Medicine and Kinesitherapy in 2009 from the University of Novi Sad in Serbia.

Based on observed benefits of the Schroth method for scoliosis, she decided to pursue a PhD in Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta to systematically study the effects of the Schroth therapy. As the first Schroth scoliosis therapist in Western Canada, Sanja’s objective was to test the effect of the Schroth exercises on curve severity, quality of life, perceived body image and back muscle endurance in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis.

She defended her PhD thesis in August 2014. Dr. Schreiber’s work provided most important evidence about the effectiveness of the Schroth exercises for adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis that could have a big impact on treatment guidelines in North America, where exercise treatment is not a part of standard care. During her graduate career, Sanja received several academic awards. Her research was supported by a local grant awarded by the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, as well as an international grant awarded by the Scoliosis Research Society, whose recommendations directly influence the North American health care system for scoliosis. Dr. Schreiber’s research attracted public interest, and was mentioned in The New York Times.  

patients with scoliosis perceive a positive change in their backs regardless of the cobb angle measurement

“Patients undergoing Schroth treatment perceived improved status of their backs even if the Cobb angle did not improve beyond the conventionally accepted threshold of 5°. Standard of care aims to slow/stop progression while Schroth exercises aim to improve postural balance, signs and symptoms of scoliosis. Given the very small MID, perceived improvement in back status is likely due to something other than the Cobb angle. This study warrants investigating alternatives to the Cobb angle that might be more relevant to patients.​”

How many patients need to be treated?

the answer is: 4

“The short term of Schroth PSSE intervention added to standard care provided a large benefit as compared to standard care alone. Four (LC and SOC) patients require treatment for the additional benefit of a 6-month long Schroth intervention to be observed beyond the standard of care in at least one patient.”

Schroth improves curve severity

​”Schroth PSSE added to the standard of care were superior compared to standard of care alone for reducing the curve severity in patients with AIS.”

Schroth improves pain & quality of life

“Supervised Schroth exercises provided added benefit to the standard of care by improving SRS-22r pain, self-image scores and BME. Given the high prevalence of ceiling effects on SRS-22r and SAQ questionnaires’ domains, we hypothesize that in the AIS population receiving conservative treatments, different QOL questionnaires with adequate responsiveness are needed.”

Protocol for the RCT

Here, you can read all about our protocol for the randomized controlled trial conducted by Sanja Schreiber.

Sanja's Phd work

  • Schroth exercises added to the standard of care led to statistically and clinically significant improvements in curve severity in patients completing the program.” 
  • “Clinically significant improvement was observed for the Largest Cobb, Sum of Cobb angles, and SRS-22r function scores.”