By Rosemary Marchese, Physiotherapist
Did you know that there is a considerable knowledge gap amongst health professionals in regards to scoliosis? A study that explored the knowledge of health professionals in regards to adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) shares some insights into these knowledge gaps (1). It highlighted that a majority of health professionals recognised the need for prompt referral of AIS and that health professionals believe that there is a problem regarding accessibility to scoliosis specialists. Health professionals feel this way whether or not they work in areas where specialised services exist! Perhaps this is how you have been feeling! Or, do you have a colleague that feels this way?
In this study, the knowledge of scoliosis clinical signs and risk factors was similar among health professionals practicing in areas where paediatric scoliosis services were available compared to rural areas. In the serviced areas 58.3% knew a minimum of 2 clinical signs, and 8.3% knew a minimum of 2 risk factors. They are not very high percentages. Similarly for those who practiced in rural regions that did not have specialised orthopedic services nearby, the corresponding percentages were 66.6 and 11.1. The majority of health professionals (70–90%) would refer the patient who required prompt referral, but only 38–60% actually rated the case as requiring prompt referral. This is a concern!
There is definitely a knowledge gap, and that can leave many patients, and families of patients frustrated. We need more and more people aware of scoliosis and the referral and treatment options.
If you or your colleagues are interested in learning fundamental knowledge of scoliosis to ensure that your patients are getting the right advice and not missing out on referral options, check out our online course ‘Essentials of Scoliosis Management’ here.