Mental Health Implications of Adolescent Scoliosis: Analysis of Current Practices and Proposal of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention




Villarreal, Ingrid

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Scoliosis is a disease most often diagnosed during adolescence (normally between the ages of 12-17). The most common type of scoliosis diagnosed in this age range is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). This type of scoliosis is idiopathic due to its manifestation without a known cause. During the adolescent stage of life, patients are dealing with normal pubescent stresses. A diagnosis of scoliosis adds another layer of burden as it requires managing the stigma of the physical scoliosis deformity and, oftentimes, treatment that includes a bulky orthotic back brace or corrective spine surgery. Patients experience scoliosis stigma that can affect self-esteem, self-worth, self-image, stress, anxiety, and social friendships. As such, patients may experience additional challenges to their mental well-being which can continue into their adult life even once the treatment has concluded. Current standards for scoliosis do not consider the negative mental health implications of the disease. An adjunctive intervention, specifically based on mindfulness, could teach patients with scoliosis to process these negative feelings and thoughts in a more positive way from the start of the treatment and aid the patients in their journey with scoliosis. Mindfulness skills could give them the tools to successfully overcome and/or experience the stressors in a less stressful way. Moreover, mindfulness-based interventions may also help to increase a patient's orthotic bracing treatment compliance which could aid in the overall improved progression of scoliosis.


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