Sport is good for scoliosis: an Isico study in the running for the SOSORT Award

It’s a fact: full-time brace wearers who do sport are more likely to see their scoliosis improve compared with those who don’t do sport. This is the result of the study entitled “EFFECT OF SPORT ACTIVITY ADDED TO FULL-TIME BRACING IN 785 RISSER 0–2 ADOLESCENTS WITH HIGH DEGREE IDIOPATHIC SCOLIOSIS,which will be presented at the forthcoming SOSORT meeting, taking place in San Francisco from 25 to 27 April.

Conducted in over 700 patients, the study, which is the only one of this kind in the literature, has been shortlisted, along with another Isico study, for the prestigious SOSORT Award. 

“Our study included 785 patients with a mean age of 12 years, presenting curves averaging 40°, who wore their brace for more than 20 hours a day” explains Alessandra Negrini physiotherapist at Isico , who conducted the research. “We assessed them through X-rays taken 6 and 18 months after they were prescribed bracing therapy and specific exercises for their scoliosis.” 

Exactly a year ago, Alessandra Negrini presented another study at SOSORT which focused on patients with milder curves (up to 25°), who did not wear a brace: “That research provided confirmation that sport reduces the chances of scoliosis worsening” Alessandra Negrini says. “Instead, in the present study, which involved a larger sample of patients with more severe curves, we calculated odds ratio (OR) values (i.e. the likelihood of improvement) in order to compare the results recorded by patients who did sport at least twice a week with those of patients who did not do any sport, or did sport just once a week. A curve reduction of more than 5 Cobb degrees was taken as an improvement”.  

“Thanks to this large sample, we were able to show, beyond doubt, that the impact of sport, albeit slight, is positive” Alessandra Negrini says, adding, “in other words, the improvement obtained by those who do sport compared with those who do not was small, but cannot be ascribed to chance. We can thus say that sport, while not constituting a therapy, does contribute to improvements recorded by patients who wear a rigid brace (the Sforzesco or Sibilla types)”. 

The study did not show any one sport to be superior to others in terms of having a positive impact: “We weren’t able to analyse the impact of volleyball as opposed to swimming or dance, for example, because youngsters make their own choices and often change sports,  or practise more than one sport at the same time, and at present we still know little about this aspect” says Alessandra Negrini. “What we plan to do soon, however, is evaluate what happens over time. Judging by the data collected to date, we can say that patients who wear a brace full time benefit from doing sport; in addition, at the 18-month follow-up, we found that the chances of improvement increased with increasing weekly frequency of sporting activity. On the basis of these results, which support recently published guidelines on scoliosis treatment (, doctors can certainly recommend regular sporting activity in these patients”.

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