Monday, March 7, 2011


Oscar's scoliosis has increased again -- he's now up to a 30 degree curve.  I know I've written here before about the various opinions we've received about how to treat.

Brace? Surgery? Exercise? Ignore?

Our main orthopedist - the one in San Francisco who always takes the time to talk to Oscar about their shared interest in basketball -- has been telling us since Oscar was three that rowing would be great for Oscar's back.  I didn't think a three year old who was just learning to pedal a tricycle could row, and neither honestly did he, but he did suggest therabands and tug-of-war and all kinds of other things that engage the back and core in the same way.

Well, we didn't do any of it.  We have done horseback riding in the summer, and swimming (which he also recommends) and various other things, but nothing consistent.

At this last appointment Dr. Gray gave me the choice -- brace again or drastically increase the exercise and see if there's improvement. He said that he treats dancers with scoliosis whose curves increase when they get injured and then improve as soon as they start dancing again. He believes in strengthening the muscles around the spine to help it align which is why we started seeing him in the first place.

And of course he recommend rowing, again.  I took Oscar to check out a WaterRower on Saturday. Oscar LOVED it. He quickly figured out the motion and then did not want to get off.  He talked about it for an hour afterward -- about how strong he's going to get and about how fun it is.  Ruby loved it too, which is great because she too has low trunk tone.  Honestly, we all need the extra core and upper body workout so I'm really excited. The machine gets great reviews, stores easily (perfect for our small house) and looks nice.  An added bonus -- the swishing of the water circulating in the drum is very soothing!

We're going to rent to start, just to make sure it doesn't stay folded up against the wall unused despite our best intentions. 


  1. This looks so cool -- I'm so happy that Oscar will be able to be such an active participant in strengthening his back and core.

    Now, I'm interested in this machine as well. We live in a small house, and the rental seems reasonable. What more do you know about this and is it something that I could use?

  2. I'm definitely not an expert...I stumbled upon this brand of rower accidentally. The man who worked in the home fitness store was very tall and it worked well for him when he demonstrated. The only adjustment from person to person is for the foot (like one of those old-style adjustable roller skates). It's very simple. You can vary resistance by adjusting the water level in the barrel but just rowing harder/faster also changes the workout. I really liked it and plan to use it myself, so I am sure you could as well!

  3. This looks great! Mary, our ortho is also a strong proponent of exercise and strengthening core muscles to improve symptoms of scoliosis. I heve never seen this before but I am definitely going to check it out. It looks like Oscar loves it!

  4. I think that sounds like a wonderful solution...and maybe you'll take to it in the evenings, as well? Exercise your way out of anxiety? I'm thinking. I'm thinking.

  5. Wow, that sounds really cool! I bet my Sophie would love something like that. Great idea!

  6. What a great way to work out and have fun at the same time! I love the fact that Oscar & Ruby both liked the idea.

  7. you know, we have a rowing machine (it's not a "water rower") in our garage that is not being used by anybody... you can ask Mollie about it.

  8. Mimi - I'm on Dad's Facebook! That rower sounds terrific and isn't it great that the kid's love it. Mom

  9. I recently had surgery to correct my scoliosis and it worked out fine. I'm back to my old height of five foot ten and I finally have a waist!
    Exercise is helpful in strengthening torso muscles and staying flexible but great advances have been made in scoliosis surgery in recent years.
    I absolutely loved the surgical team at the Spine Institute at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan. They're not only top-notch doctors but genuinely nice people.
    I know it would be a haul for you, but the Spine Institute is truly outstanding. My roomate came from Greece for her surgery and she could have afforded to go anywhere in the world.
    Just a suggestion. Hopefully Oscar's curvature won't progress to the point where surgery is necessary.