Faculty Advisor(s)

Michael Fillyaw

Document Type

Course Paper

Publication Date



© 2017 Thomas Kent


Background and Purpose: Scoliosis is commonly an idiopathic condition that occurs in approximately 2-3% of the population and is defined by a lateral spinal curvature of greater than 10 degrees. Common symptoms associated with scoliosis include decreased pulmonary function and chronic spinal pain. Depending on the degree of curvature bracing or surgery may be required. The purpose of this case study is to evaluate the effects of an aquatic and land based exercise program on an adult with severe, untreated, early onset scoliosis. Case Description: The patient was a 55-year-old female with a history of scoliosis and recent onset of low back pain. The chief complaint was severe back pain, which limited her ability to function at her job and impaired her ability to sleep. X-ray results showed severe scoliosis in the lumbar spine with lateral subluxations at L3 on L4. The plan of care consisted of aquatic based therapy for lumbar stabilization and decompression and land based therapy for soft tissue manipulation and lumbar stabilization. Outcomes: Throughout this plan of care, the patient’s pain decreased from 4/10 to 0/10 at rest, 10/10 to 4/10 with prolonged activity, and 6/10 to 1-2/10 on average. The patient also demonstrated a significant change in Oswestry Disability Index score from 28% to 10%. Discussion: This case report suggested that aquatic and land based therapy that was focused on transverse abdominis activation for lumbar stabilization, spinal decompression, and soft tissue manipulation decreased our patient’s low back pain and improved her functional mobility as evident by improved pain scores and Oswestry Disability Index scores. Further research is suggested to assess the long-term effects of aquatic and land based intervention.


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