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Scoliosis Screening

Spinal/Scoliosis Screening

    Every year school nurses in Alabama screen students for spinal problems (Scoliosis, Kyphosis, and Lordosis) in grades 5th through 9th (ages 10-14). Alabama is one of several states that have laws mandating annual spinal/scoliosis screenings. Decatur City Schools conducts it's spinal/scoliosis screenings between January and April. The school nurse will send a letter home, prior to the screening, informing parents/guardians when the screening will be conducted.

The procedure is a very simple one. The nurse will observe the child’s posture while standing and bending forward. It is suggested that girls wear a halter top or bra/sports bra during screening, and boys remove their shirts. The child's privacy will be maintained and the school nurse will try to eliminate all embarrasment. If any abnormality is suspected, you will receive a notification letter indicating the need for further evaluation by your child’s physician.

NOTE: If you choose not to have your child screened or if your child is already under the care of a physician for a spinal problem, we will need a signed letter from your doctor indicating they have had a spinal screening.

What is Scoliosis?

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common form of spinal curvature and is manifested primarily during adolescent growth prior to skeletal maturity. Since there is no known cause, prevention, or cure for this lateral bending of the spine, treatment consists of trying to stabilize curvatures after they have developed by bracing or by partially correcting and stabilizing the curves with surgically placed metal rods attached to the spine. The disorder appears to be transmitted within families, but its exact mode of inheritance is still in question. Adolescent scoliosis is further complicated by rotation of the spine in addition to lateral curving. Ribs on the convex side of the rotation move posteriorly, causing a prominence along the back, while ribs on the concave side are carried forward to create a prominence of the chest wall. Both curving and rotation are inseparable and sometimes are associated with kyphosis (humpback) and lordosis (swayback).

There are 128 public school systems in the 67 counties of Alabama, and at the start of 2004, some 300,000 children were in this age group. This number of adolescents represents only 89% of the children in the state. The remaining 11%, approximately 35,000, attend private or home schools and are not subject to required state screening. The screening of this targeted age group was designed to detect adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) as well as other perceived spinal irregularities, including kyphosis and lordosis.

It's the Law!

Act No. 84-83 of the Alabama Legislation directed the Department of Education and the State of Board of Health to implement procedures for examination of all public school students, ages 11 through 14 (grades 5-9), for the purpose of detecting the development of scoliosis and for referring those children with positive screenings to a trained medical professional. Screening shall begin with the 1984-85 school year and shall be phased in over a period of five years after the effective day (3-26-84) of the law.
Purpose: The goal is that children having scoliosis be detected early and placed under medical care before serious physical disability and deformity occur. The program is designed to screen children at school and to teach students and their parents about scoliosis.

If you have any questions, please contact your health care provider or your child's school nurse.


DISCLAIMER: Decatur City School nurses do not take the place of a doctor. None of the information provided on this website is meant to replace a doctor.  Every student should have their own health care provider. The information on this website is meant for informational purposes only. Decatur City Schools, it's staff, teachers, and nurses are not responsible for anyone who does not follow the advice of their own physician or health care provider.


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