A First-Year DPT Student’s Perspectives on a Cadaver with Scoliosis

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Study Design: Single subject observational case report. Background: Scoliosis is a condition commonly managed by physical therapists (PTs) in most settings. Patient management may include surgical correction, which requires PTs to be knowledgeable of the type of surgery and implications. Recent orthopedic research has found that disease type may alter vertebral anatomy, indicating the need for further consideration of the surgical technique used.4.

Case Description: Measurements of vertebral anatomy of a human cadaver were obtained by bisection of the vertebra, then compared with measurements from magnetic resonance (MR) images in previously reported orthopedic studies. The purpose of this study was to explore and combine the literature review with examination of a human specimen to gain a deeper understanding of scoliotic anatomy in order to enhance future clinical practice as well as to attempt to identify the underlying condition that led to scoliosis and other impairments in the cadaver.

Outcomes: This study led to a hypothesis of etiology of scoliosis in the cadaver by comparison of physical measurements to existing studies and synthesis of existing research. Cadaveric measurements generally matched corresponding measurements of idiopathic scoliosis as described in previous studies. Analysis of the global abnormalities of the cadaver led to a clinically applicable understanding of the end-stage of life presentation of scoliosis and the necessity of management of this condition.

Conclusion: According to research, the spinal column in patients with scoliosis may differ anatomically based on disease. This study, by improving one student’s knowledge of scoliosis, raised the question of whether PTs should base management decisions of scoliosis on etiology due to the anatomical differences. The opportunistic approach to this study shows the importance of students’ willingness to explore disease processes that may be present in the cadaver population within the anatomy laboratory.

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The Journal of Student Physical Therapy Research





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This article was published in The Journal of Student Physical Therapy Research, Volume 8, Issue 3, pages 85-91.

The published version is available at http://www.ptstudentjournal.org/volume-8-3.html.

Copyright © 2015.

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