Mild Idiopathic Scoliosis Impairs Postural Stability

Balance is compromised even at disease onset, especially in sensory conflict situations

THURSDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- Girls newly diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) have balance disturbances in both simple and more complex postural tasks, even when their spine deformation is mild, according to a study published online Feb. 7 in Spine.

Thierry Haumont, M.D., of Nancy-University in France, and colleagues investigated postural control in patients with a new diagnosis of AIS. Sixty-five adolescent girls (mean age, 11.4 ± 2.3 years) were evaluated at the time of diagnosis, measuring their postural control and balance in static tests with and without sensory conflict, and in dynamic situations.

The researchers found that patients with AIS had reduced postural performance, especially in sensory conflict situations. The mean Cobb angle was 14.8 ± 5.1 degrees. The patients with a higher Cobb angle (15 to 25 degrees) exhibited higher body sways in static tests with eyes open and eyes closed, and higher lateral oscillations with eyes closed. They had poorer balance control, mostly in visual and somatosensory conflict situations. Compared to those patients with a lower Cobb angle, they used fewer anticipatory strategies to steady themselves, especially in sensory conflict and dynamic test scenarios.

"Poorer postural performance, especially in sensory conflict situations, observed in patients with a Cobb angle greater or equal to 15 degrees, reflect less effective central information process," the authors write. "A prospective study is now required to seek posturographic parameters, which could be used to predict just at the onset of AIS how the deformation will progress."

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