Introduction: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of the Schroth exercise on idiopathic scoliosis. The overall effect size was analyzed in 15 primary studies and a subgroup analysis of the standardized mean differences of effect sizes from 15 primary studies was also conducted.
Evidence acquisition: We used PUBMED, MEDLINE, NDSL, EMBASE, and Web of Science. The key terms used in these searches were "Schroth," "scoliosis-specific exercise," "scoliosis," and "idiopathic scoliosis."
Evidence synthesis: Cobb's angle, asymmetry, angle of trunk rotation (ATR), strength of back extensor, strength of trunk flexor, quality of life (QOL), balance, chest expansion, and pulmonary function were coded as outcome measures for computing effect sizes. Potential moderating variables of the Schroth exercise included: 1) pre-intervention severity of the scoliosis; 2) duration; and 3) specific types of Schroth exercise.
Conclusions: The overall effect size of the Schroth exercise is high (g=0.724). In addition, Schroth exercise may be more beneficial for scoliosis patients who have a 10 to 30° Cobb's angle than for those with a greater than 30° Cobb's angle. Patients should practice the exercise for at least one month to have a better effect. Thus, therapists should consider patients' initial curve status and exercise duration before prescribing the Schroth exercise program. Core muscle strength was most influenced, and structural deformity also changed after the Schroth exercise. In sum, the Schroth exercise is a recommended treatment method for scoliosis patients.