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Timelines for returning to physical activity following pediatric spinal surgery: recommendations from the literature and preliminary data

  • Willson, Leanne R.1
  • Klootwyk, Madeline1
  • Rogers, Laura G.1
  • Shearer, Kathleen2
  • Southon, Sarah2, 3
  • Sasseville, Christina1
  • 1 The King’s University, 9125–50 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, T6B 2H3, Canada , Edmonton (Canada)
  • 2 Stollery Children’s Hospital, 8440 112 St NW, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2B7, Canada , Edmonton (Canada)
  • 3 University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing 4-141 Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, 11405 87 Ave, Edmonton, AB, T6G 1C9, Canada , Edmonton (Canada)
Published Article
BMC Research Notes
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Apr 29, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s13104-021-05571-2
Springer Nature


ObjectiveParticipation in physical activity and sports is known to have positive implications for physical health, and for social and emotional wellbeing of children. Following corrective spinal surgery for scoliosis, the timeline for the return to activities and sports varies from surgeon to surgeon and from location to location, and return to activities can be limited due to pain, fear, and decreased flexibility. It is critical that patients know best-practice guidelines, and it is equally critical that medical professionals know whether their patients are following those guidelines. This paper includes a summary of recommendations published in the literature, and a pilot study to address a gap in the literature on determining how long, post-surgery, adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis waited before returning to various self-care and physical activities, and what factors influenced return to activities. We used a mixed-method approach that involved two phases: a questionnaire (n = 8), and subsequent interviews of some participants (n = 3). Participants were ages 14–17 (M = 15.4) and had had posterior instrumentation and fusion for scoliosis in the past 2 years.ResultsSome patients were cautious about return to activities, either because of emotional or medical reasons. However, in many instances, participants returned to physical activities earlier than was recommended, primarily for emotional and social reasons.

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