Dr. Juan du Plessis is a Scoliosis Clinician in our Sydney North and South ScoliCare clinic. He is also Team Leader and brings a wealth of knowledge, care and experience to the treatment of our patients.
Describe the types of scoliosis patients you see in your clinic.
I see patients of all ages, male and female, however the female adolescent case makes up the majority of the demographic. Older adults (>65 years) also constitute a large proportion of patients.
Describe common challenges faced by patients with scoliosis?
Education is initially the biggest challenge. Patients and parents generally have a lack of understanding of what scoliosis is when they present to the clinic. Most believe that scoliosis is some form of muscular imbalance, unaware that the condition is primarily a vertebral bone change that is amplified by growth of the spine. This lack of understanding then spills over into not understanding which treatment choices are available and appropriate for the condition.
Explain how you help patients to overcome these challenges.
Simple diagrams showing the development of a bone affected by scoliosis through the growth phase help patients and parents to understand the morphological changes that the bone and surrounding structures undergo and how this then has a global effect on the rest of the body, including rib cage, muscles, ligaments, joints and various other structural/functional components of the body.
Why did you decide to work in the area of scoliosis?
I started my journey in Scoliosis with soft flexible bracing, which highlighted the vastness of the options in terms of bracing and rehabilitation otherwise known as conservative management. The most evident fact was that there appeared to be a lack of understanding as to the differences between the different conservative options. Compressing the conservative treatment modalities into one effective, all encompassing solution was my next goal, which led me to ScoliCare. The next goal was then to help implement a treatment structure at the specific moment in the scoliosis life-cycle that gives the recommended treatment the greatest chance of succeeding. Timing is extremely important in Scoliosis management. Treating scoliosis appropriately before it is too late is by far the most powerful option as this affords the treatment modality the opportunity to be effective.