A heavy school bag and bad posture could lead to scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, and the progression rate is especially fast during childhood and adolescence. Doctors say that girls are more likely to develop scoliosis than boys because girls grow faster. Besides a sore waist and an aching back, scoliosis could have a negative effect on cardiopulmonary function. In cases of severe scoliosis, surgery is necessary.
Lo Hao-ju, a doctor in the orthopedics department of Taipei City Hospital’s Renai branch, says that the causes of scoliosis have yet to be discovered, but bad posture and carrying an overweight school bag are possible contributory factors. X-rays are usually taken to assess the degrees of spinal curvature: less than 20° is considered mild; between 20° to 45° is considered moderate; and greater than 45° is considered severe.
Scoliosis can lead to humpback or uneven shoulders. Given that scoliosis causes long-term imbalance in muscle development, children with scoliosis often complain of back pain, and when they reach old age, they are likely to fall victim to sciatica. In severe scoliosis, the deformities may put pressure on a patient’s lungs and heart, thus affecting their respiratory and cardiovascular systems or even disrupt the patient’s ability to move and affect their quality of life.
Wu Chun-chieh, a doctor in the physical rehabilitation department at Taipei City Hospital’s Zhongxing branch, says that most scoliosis cases are S-shaped, with one half of the curve to the left, and the other half to the right. Simply correcting one’s everyday posture is usually sufficient for people with mild scoliosis. People with moderate curvature are required to do rehabilitation exercises to improve muscle strength or to wear a brace to correct the deformity. Severe scoliosis requires surgery — a major operation with potential risks involved — to correct the disorder. If the curve progresses by 5° or more per year, surgery is recommended.
Kao Mu-jung, head of the rehabilitation department of Taipei City Hospital, says that an average of 10 percent of school-aged children could potentially develop scoliosis. As they enter adolescence, the curvature may progress more rapidly to show symptoms. A comprehensive health exam at school could help alert parents to the condition in their children at an early stage. If scoliosis is suspected, people can go to a hospital for a professional follow-up and rehabilitation exercises to improve the condition.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Lin Ya-ti)