Friday, February 15, 2008

High School Athletes and Scoliosis

This past week, a female high school runner who is a patient of ours came into our office rather upset. She needed to talk. Evidently, the school nurse suggested the possibility of scoliosis, and the very thought of some deformity in her back was overwhelming to her.

Six months ago, when her mother brought her in to go through our Structural Fingerprint Exam® to uncover any structural imbalances or weaknesses, we looked at her in extreme detail to see how she faired. Look at the homepage under "Structural Fingerprint Exam®", and you'll see all the tests we put her through. This was one of those great cases where the mother "gets it", and wanted to have her daughter begin her running career safely, to see if there were any "structural issues" we should know about before she began.

For the past 6 months, we've been treating her accordingly, along with monitoring some of the other recommendations we made for her, and she has succeeded beautifully. She went to Disney in January and ran her first big race, and has continued running since. The joy her mom feels, being a marathoner herself, is, as they say, "priceless".

But, all of these successes became irrelevant, meaningless, as the school nurse examined her and said she might have scoliosis. Tears streamed down her face, and quickly, someone had to try and make sense of it all to her. "The school nurse is using very few tools to examine you, and can only screen you. When seeing so many kids, I'm sure one athlete just blends into the next, and any suggestion is only precautionary".

Within 5 minutes, we had her smiling again, because we pulled out her x-rays, and her spine was as straight as an arrow. "There is no scoliosis", I told her. I also told her I'd be happy to call the nurse and speak with her, which I did.

So, after all that, what is the moral of the story? First of all, from a structural point of view, our healthcare industry grades people as either having scoliosis or not having scoliosis. Black or white. Yet structural biomechanics is hardly black and white. There are unlimited shades of gray, but our medical model healthcare providers are thoroughly unfamiliar with the grays.

They are familiar with hearts and lungs and pancreas', but the percentage of high school kids with issues in these organs pales in comparison to the percentage of kids who have biomechanical issues at this age. The thought that so many kids have braces on their teeth, but their musculo-skeletal system is perfectly balanced is insane.

The second moral of the story is that all high school athletes are examined medically (eyes, ears, nose and throat) while their biomechanics are grossly ignored. This has to change. We know too much now to let these young kids fly without a net in life, when they could easily go through a full exam and begin to make corrections before breakdowns occur.

Like our young runner friend, who clearly can't appreciate how good she really has it. She's paying now so she can pay considerably less later. And, someday, hopefully, she'll appropriately thank her mother.

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