Effectiveness of Schroth exercises during bracing in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: results from a preliminary study—SOSORT Award 2017 Winner

·  Kenny Yat Hong Kwan

·  Aldous C.S. Cheng

·  Hui Yu Koh

·  Alice Y.Y. Chiu & 

·  Kenneth Man Chee Cheung 



Bracing has been shown to decrease significantly the progression of high-risk curves to the threshold for surgery in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), but the treatment failure rate remains high. There is evidence to suggest that Schroth scoliosis-specific exercises can slow progression in mild scoliosis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of Schroth exercises in AIS patients with high-risk curves during bracing.


A prospective, historical cohort-matched study was carried out. Patients diagnosed with AIS who fulfilled the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) criteria for bracing were recruited to receive Schroth exercises during bracing. An outpatient-based Schroth program was given. Data for these patients were compared with a 1:1 matched historical control group who were treated with bracing alone. The assessor and statistician were blinded. Radiographic progression, truncal shift, and SRS-22r scores were compared between cases and controls.


Twenty-four patients (5 males and 19 females, mean age 12.3 ± 1.4 years) were included in the exercise group, and 24 patients (mean age 11.8 ± 1.1 years) were matched in the control group. The mean follow-up period for the exercise group was 18.1 ± 6.2 months. In the exercise group, spinal deformity improved in 17% of patients (Cobb angle improvement of ≥ 6°), worsened in 21% (Cobb angle increases of ≥ 6°), and remained stable in 62%. In the control group, 4% improved, 50% worsened, and 46% remained stable. In the subgroup analysis, 31% of patients who were compliant (13 cases) improved, 69% remained static, and none had worsened, while in the non-compliant group (11 cases), none had improved, 46% worsened, and 46% remained stable. Analysis of the secondary outcomes showed improvement of the truncal shift, angle of trunk rotation, the SRS function domain, and total scores in favor of the exercise group.


This is the first study to investigate the effects of Schroth exercises on AIS patients during bracing. Our findings from this preliminary study showed that Schroth exercise during bracing was superior to bracing alone in improving Cobb angles, trunk rotation, and QOL scores. Furthermore, those who were compliant with the exercise program had a higher rate of Cobb angle improvement. The results of this study form the basis for a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of Schroth exercises during bracing in AIS.

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