Methods: The literature was systematically searched in PubMed, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, the Index to Chiropractic Literature, and the National Guidelines Clearinghouse from the earliest date of each database through July 2008. All languages and research designs were included. Web sites of respected organizations were searched for position/white papers on scoliosis and physical activity. Included articles were rated using the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine criteria, and recommendations for physical activity were made using the Oxford Centre's criteria for grades of recommendation.
Results: Of 42 articles retrieved, 11 met the inclusion criteria. The Internet review of 18 organizations yielded no previous guidelines or position papers for physical activity and scoliosis. Recommendations were made from 3 level 3b studies and 8 level 5 studies; they include the following: (1) brace-treated and surgically treated scoliosis patients have demonstrated that they can physically participate in physical activities at the same level as nonsurgical patients (grade C recommendation); (2) nonsurgically treated patients are encouraged to participate in sports and physical activity and (3) scoliosis is not a contraindication to participation in most sports (grade D recommendation); (4) brace-treated scoliosis patients are encouraged to exercise with their brace on; however, exercise may also be done outside of the brace (grade D recommendation); and (5) physical activity may be commenced after surgery for scoliosis; however, no high-quality evidence exists that guides the timing of return to physical activity (grade D recommendation). A potential association between elite-level competition in specific sports at an early age and an increased prevalence of scoliosis has been reported (grade C recommendation).
Conclusion: This article offers evidence-based guidance to health care providers and to patients with scoliosis when making decisions to participate in physical and sporting activities.
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