Katharina Schroth suffered from scoliosis at a time when no one knew how to control it. Through her own ingenuity, she developed a unique treatment method that worked for her own body, and in 1921 she opened a clinic in Germany to treat others. Her daughter Christa Lehnert-Schroth continued the tradition of her mother and became the clinical director until she retired.
They recognized that the trunk is formed of three body segments and that these three parts were abnormally rotated against each other. It was necessary to correct them by creating the "counter image" of each abnormal rotation by means of the Schroth rotational breathing system. "If the patients let themselves go and do not attempt to correct their condition, their body will only do what they tell it to do." Katharina Schroth
Block diagram of trunk
(a) Subdivision into three rectangulars superimposed blocks (pelvic girdle, rib cage , shoulder girdle)
b) In scoliosis, three blocks of trunk deviated from vertical axis. This results in lateral shifting of spine.
(c) The three blocks develop "wedge-like " form depending on the severity of scoliosis, and rotate against each other about the vertical axis. Ribs and spine follow these distortions. Scoliotic torsion is created.
(d) Additional lumbosacral countercurvatures . This pattern demands additional special pelvic corrections in order to influence existing pelvic torsion, explanations of which would go far beyond this paper. *
The so-called thoracic "hump" and hip protrusion result from progressive scoliosis and increased rotation with lateral deviation of the trunk. In infantile idiopathic scoliosis, this often leads to deformities of the rib cage with subsequent restriction of the respiratory, circulatory and cardiac functions. The cardio-respiratory prognosis is not so bleak with adolescent scoliotics, and they do not usually suffer from major cardio-pulmonary restrictions in latter life.
The prognosis of the scoliosis itself depends upon various factors, especially the age of onset, the magnitude of curvature angle. The greatest danger in idiopatic scoliosis is during the growing period of the adolescent years.
Development of the Gibbus
The presence of the hump may also lead to numerous psychological problems. Katharina Schroth is famous for the phrase: "There is no hump, only torsioned ribs." This is especially true for a scoliosis in the early stage of development. If nothing is done to counteract it, one lateral half of the back may quickly enlarge, because the gibbus develops as a consequence of imbalance of muscles and forces mainly shifted ribs and associated muscles being pressed into the wrong direction, partly anteriorly and partly posteriorly and/or laterally. This results automatically in better ventilation of the pulmonary half on the side of the rib hump, whereas the other side -- the concave (depressed) side -- is less well ventilated. The shifting of the center of gravity leads to a static imbalance.
*Reference: Physiotherapy, vol.78, no 11 (November, 1992), by Christa Lehnert-Schroth, PT.
Christa's son Hans-Rudolf Weiss, M.D., succeeded her as Medical Director in 1995. He and his colleagues pursue intensive research to define structure-function relationships between spinal curvature and symptoms, including the dynamics of breathing as they relate to the mechanisms of spinal deformity.