Current knowledge of idiopathic scoliosis among practising physiotherapists in South Africa

Abraham Du Toit, Nassib Tawa, Dominique C. Leibbrandt, Josette Bettany-saltikov, Quinette A. Louw

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Background: Idiopathic scoliosis (IS) is a common musculoskeletal condition with a multi-factorial aetiology characterised by a three-dimensional torsional deformity of the spine.

Objectives: To ascertain the current level of knowledge on IS among registered practising physiotherapists who expressed an interest in orthopaedic, muscular, manual and manipulative therapy in South Africa (SA).

Method: An online survey was used to collect the data. The questions were based on an existing questionnaire, validated by a South African panel of experts in the field of musculoskeletal physiotherapy and updated based on the 2016 Society of Scoliosis Orthopaedic Rehabilitation Treatment (SOSORT) guidelines for the assessment and management of IS.

Results: Two hundred and twenty-three physiotherapists spread across the nine provinces of SA met the inclusion criteria and were included in our study. Our findings showed that about one-third (33.6%) of the physiotherapists could answer more than 50% of these questions correctly, and 16.5% could answer 70% of the questions correctly in relation to the widely accepted guidelines on IS management.

Conclusion: The participants had a poor understanding of the diagnosis and treatment involved in managing patients with IS and a lack of knowledge regarding the methods of conservative treatment for scoliosis. Future studies should be aimed at assessing intervention strategies to improve the knowledge of IS in physiotherapists in SA, especially regarding diagnosis and identifying appropriate management strategies.

Clinical implications: Physiotherapists are often the first contact practitioners for patients presenting with scoliosis and therefore need to have the necessary clinical knowledge on the assessment and management of IS. Our study can improve the awareness among the South African physiotherapists regarding IS and its complex presentation and management.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalSouth African Journal of Physiotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2020


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