Specialized Scoliosis Therapy Reduces Symptoms, Prevents Progression for 62-year-old Woman

Monessa Van Cise and her rehabilitation therapist showing her a spine replica to discuss scoliosis

August 23, 2022

When Monessa Van Cise was a teenager, she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition that causes the spine to grow abnormally in a sideways curve. At the time, the only noninvasive treatment for scoliosis involved wearing a brace. Corrective surgery comes with risks, and is only recommended in severe cases. 

Monessa didn’t receive any treatment until later in life, when her scoliosis began to get worse, and she started to experience pain and limited range of motion. 

“Over the years, I have worked through a number of traditional physical therapy courses, gotten surgical opinions, taken all kinds of medications, received facet joint and nerve block injections, and even tried yoga for scoliosis, and back braces,” said Monessa. “Contrary to popular belief, scoliosis can be
debilitating and cause great pain, especially for an older patient.”

Finding the Right Scoliosis Treatment Practitioner

In her search for new treatment options, Monessa learned about the Schroth method, which is a series of targeted exercises designed to restore normal spinal position and improve posture. Under the guidance of a certified physical therapist, the exercises are customized to the unique curve of each patient’s spine. 

After searching an online database of Schroth practitioners, Monessa found Caitlin Smith-Norris, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. 

Caitlin started by learning about Monessa’s curve and symptoms before creating a treatment plan using a combination of Schroth-specific and traditional physical therapy exercises. 

“The most effective treatment for my scoliosis issues has been doing Schroth exercises and learning about my own individual curves and rotations,” said Monessa, who was 62 years old when she began working with Caitlin. “It is not easy, but like any exercise, you have to do the work to see the results.” 

Caitlin also helped Monessa manage her vertigo and inner ear issues, which were keeping her from fully engaging with her scoliosis workouts. 

“I truly love working with patients with scoliosis, and I am grateful to have been able to help Monessa,” said Caitlin. “I get to work with patients of all ages and help them better understand their curve and how that plays a role in their day to day lives. I help them gain strength, mobility, stability, but most importantly confidence.”

“I am very thankful that my path through life has crossed with Caitlin’s, and hope that she will continue to expand her work with scoliosis patients,” said Monessa. 

Raising Awareness about Early Intervention

In addition to pursuing further training in the Schroth method, Caitlin hopes to raise awareness about the benefits of early intervention with teens who receive a scoliosis diagnosis and their parents. 

“Starting Schroth therapy soon after being diagnosed with scoliosis can improve long-term outcomes for teens,” said Caitlin. “The more patients can stay on top of things through a personalized exercise program, checkups and routine visits throughout their life, the better.”

Even though Monessa didn’t start Schroth physical therapy until later in life, she is still reaping the benefits. Monessa and Caitlin plan to have regular check-ins, so they can address any changes in Monessa’s condition and prevent problems from developing.

“These exercises are now a part of my daily life,” said Monessa. “And knowing that I am doing my best to prevent my scoliosis curves from getting worse and also improving my range of motion keeps me focused and on track.”

Next Steps & Resources:

 
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.
 
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