Factors Influencing Work Capacity in Adolescent Idiopathic Thoracic Scoliosis
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The factors contributing to reduced work capacity (disability) in adolescent idiopathic thoracic scoliosis are poorly understood. We performed a cross-sectional study using multivariate analysis to identify the individual and additive influence of spinal deformity, pulmonary impairment, and muscular function on work capacity in 79 subjects with idiopathic scoliosis (angle of scoliosis 45 +/- 18.5 degrees, SD). Work capacity was measured using an incremental cycle test, and the cardiorespiratory response to exercise was compared with that of normal subjects. Work capacity was reduced (% Wcap, 86%; 95% CI 81.9 to 89.7), indicating significant disability. The % Wcap was unrelated to the nature and extent of spinal deformity (p > 0.05). Leg muscularity and pulmonary impairment had an additive influence on work capacity, the relationship with muscularity being the stronger of the two. Independently of muscularity and pulmonary impairment, a high heart rate response at submaximal work rates was also associated with a reduced work capacity. Ventilation was normal for metabolic demands. During exercise, the tidal volumes of scoliotic subjects were reduced in proportion to the vital capacity. We conclude that disability occurs with mild to moderate idiopathic scoliosis and appears to be related to a combination of reduced ventilatory capacity, reduced muscularity, and cardiovascular deconditioning. These findings suggest that physical activity should be encouraged in subjects with idiopathic scoliosis to maintain peripheral muscle and cardiovascular conditioning, thereby minimizing disability.
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