In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Association of Spinal Surgeons of India (ASSI) has launched a screening programme in multiple cities to identify spinal deformities, including scoliosis, among school children.
The screening program aims to reach out to around to 1.5 lakh school students in two years, a statement said.
Scoliosis, characterised by abnormal curvature of the spine, are usually occur among children below 14 years of age. However, experts say, due to lack of awareness and absence of medical screenings, late identification of the disease remains a major problem in India.
Spinal abnormalities such as scoliosis and kyphosis need to be identified early so that effective intervention can be undertaken to prevent progression of the deformity.
The first phase of the programme will target schools in nine cities and then the screening program is expected to be extended to 14 cities, the statement said, adding plans are afoot to launch an e-learning programme to enable people identify spinal deformity.
ASSI has reached out to schools in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Lucknow and Patna in the first phase.
Notably, several applications, such as Scoliometer and Angle meter, are available online for people to
check spinal deformities themselves. The ASSI awareness program will also educate parents about the availability and usage of such apps.
The ASSI also recommends that all children between the age of 10 and 14 be screened for spinal abnormality.
"Spinal deformities can have devastating consequences on cosmetic appearance and neurological function. While many cases of curvature are mild and require only ongoing observation, other cases can worsen with time and require active treatment such as bracing and surgery," ASSI president Dr H S Chhabra said.
"Screening for spinal deformity is an established process worldwide. However, in India we do not have comprehensive screening programmes which lead to late presentation of the condition.
"Through our screening programme, we aim to reach out to around 10,000 kids in each city. This will be a first-of-its-kind major country-wide study," said Dr Chhabra, who is also the chief of spine service and Medical Director of Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in New Delhi.
The purpose of the screening program is to identify students with spinal curvatures that will require follow up by a healthcare provider.
Collation of long-term data under the study will help experts study the prevalence of spinal deformities and their prognosis in India, Dr Chhabra said.
Free counselling of the parents will be facilitated under the drive and treatment process will initiated where required.
ASSI president-elect Dr Shankar Acharya said, "Scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine, is the most common spine deformity in the pediatric population. Other less common curvatures include lordosis, which is an accentuated forward curvature of the lower spine, and kyphosis, a rounding of the upper spine."
"In the absence of medical screening, kyphosis is often confused with poor posture among children when it is actually a structural deformity. Lack of awareness remains a major challenge and is a major factor behind late identification of the condition.
"With the development of curvatures occurring most often between 10-18 years, it is important that it is detected in early adolescence. Progression occurs at rates 7-8 times higher in girls than boys," Dr Acharya said.
Experts underline that recent advances in spine surgery, including neuromonitoring, navigation, robotic technology and minimally invasive surgery, have helped make the process safe and effective. PLB PLB NSD NSD
Source : Outlook India , 26 August 2019