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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Darcy Umphred

First Committee Member

Nancy Byl

Second Committee Member

Marilyn Mieras

Third Committee Member

Daniel Benson


Idiopathic Scoliosis, IS, affects only about 5% of the population but can produce very disabling deformities, affecting other major systems in the body. The most commonly affected are young females between the ages of 8 and 16 years of age. The specific cause of IS is unknown but it is hypothesized to be a multisystem disorder. The purpose of this descriptive study was to measure the neuromuscular factors of joint laxity, muscle strength, and sensory processing in female adolescents (N = 90), 46 who were being treated for IS and 44 age matched controls who were screened for scoliosis and found to have no spinal curves. Based on the analysis of variance of the subjects with IS, the experimental group had significantly more joint laxity at the knee and elbow (p $\le$ 0.0001) as well as tactile defensiveness (p $\le$ 0.0001) and tested weaker in quadriceps femoris strength (p $\le$ 0.003 and p $\le$ 0.008) left and right respectfully. Those with IS were more likely to have a history of difficult births (42% vs. 28%). Those with difficult births were more likely to have larger thoracic curves (p $\le$ 0.013), greater weakness in the left quadriceps (p $\le$ 0.0015) and greater tactile defensiveness (p $\le$ 0.0437). The findings in this study confirm the presence of neuromuscular skeletal difficulties. It is conceivable that joint laxity is related to difficulty in sensory processing and reduced postural tone that impairs postural righting against gravity. It is not clear if these imbalances can be remediated. Further studies on postural righting and stabilization along with EMG analysis during functional activities could clarify what intervention strategies might be used to provide the stability necessary to prevent further curve progression or improve the spinal alignment.




9780599130678 , 0599130679

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