In many countries across the globe like the
United States, United Kingdom, Canada and others, the month of June is marked
as Scoliosis Awareness Month.
In Canada, Scoliosis Awareness Day is marked on
June 1. Canada also has a unique peer-support group called the "Curvy Girls
Ottawa" for teens with scoliosis. Such peer-lead groups encourage and motivate
other young people to comply and actively participate in their treatment. This
group was started by Leah Stoltz who went through the anguish of braces and
surgery during adolescence. The group's mission is to provide emotional support
to other girls, enable self-acceptance and empower them to adopt a healthy
lifestyle. There are a total of 65 scoliosis support groups connected to this
Though scoliosis is not a rare disease, it
disrupts the lives of individuals physically, psychologically and socially.
often have to deal with the frightening
aspect of living with a physical deformity and feel socially isolated. In order
to bring them together and create awareness among families and communities, the
Scoliosis Association UK launched the first International Scoliosis Awareness
Day in 2013. Since then the month of June is of great significance for people
living with scoliosis.
What is Scoliosis?
A normal spine is usually straight while a
spine with scoliosis presents a curvature. Scoliosis curves are of three types:
a single curve to the left like a C-shape, a single curve to the right like a
backward C or two curves in the shape of the letter S.
It usually manifests during childhood or
adolescence. Most of the cases are idiopathic with no known cause. Mild
scoliosis usually does not require treatment but individuals need to be
regularly monitored with x-rays. Moderate scoliosis is usually treated with
braces while severe scoliosis requires a surgical procedure known as posterior
spinal fusion with metal implants and
Untreated scoliosis can cause compression of
space required for the heart and lungs causing serious cardiovascular and
Scoliosis affects approximately 2-3 percent of
the population. An extrapolated estimate indicates that nearly 3.2 million of
India's total population suffer from scoliosis.
Implications of living
Scoliosis presents significant physical, social
and psychological implications for children, teens and young adults.
There have been numerous studies on the
psychological impact of scoliosis and treatment. Many young people feel
socially discriminated due to the awkwardness of wearing braces. Teens and
young adults are often dissatisfied with their appearance and may have a
negative body image. Many teens and young adults go through a period of initial
depression and social withdrawal as they do not want to be seen wearing braces
Apart from the psychosocial impact of coping
with scoliosis, young people also face significant discomfort from wearing
braces. Most patients are required to wear braces for 13-16 hours/day. This
causes physical discomfort including redness, irritation, itching, a sense of
tightness and difficulty in breathing and eating.
To cope with physical and psychological
discomfort, adequate family support and external counselling is required.
Peer-support is usually the best form of informal counseling where people with
similar issues exchange ideas and information on coping.
International Scoliosis Day
The National Scoliosis Awareness Month Campaign
in the United States outlines the following objectives:
highlight the importance of early screening and detection to avoid surgical
- To increase public awareness of scoliosis in
the community through advocacy and educational activities.
bring together patients, families, caregivers, clinicians and support
specialists into positive collaborative partnerships.
build better community collaborations to sustain the campaign.
Across the globe, patient associations and
support groups organize a range of educational activities to inform and educate
the public on scoliosis prevention, treatment and other medico-social issues.
This day functions as a day when the collective voice of people with scoliosis
is heard globally.
International Scoliosis Day is also marked with
conferences, workshops and common platforms to discuss clinical and
non-clinical issues faced by people with scoliosis. Such networking provides
patients and families with latest information about clinical interventions and
prospects for future therapies and curatives. It also highlights the
significance of greater clinical research for better treatment modalities.