Athletic activity after spine surgery in children and adolescents: results of a survey.

Rubery PT, Bradford DS. Spine 2002 Feb 15;27(4):423-7

STUDY DESIGN: Questionnaire-based survey. OBJECTIVES: To poll the members of the Scoliosis Research Society regarding their opinions and experience with athletic activity after spine surgery performed on children and adolescents. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Athletic activity is increasingly important in society. Patients are very concerned about returning to sports and exercise after spinal surgery. There are no generally accepted guidelines for surgeons regarding either appropriate sports or the appropriate time to resume sports after spinal surgery. METHODS: A survey was designed by the authors and reviewed by a statistical consultant. The form was mailed to the 721 individuals on the Scoliosis Research Society mailing list. Returned surveys were hand scored and entered into an Excel spreadsheet. RESULTS: Of the 316 forms returned, 278 indicated that the respondent performed spinal fusion on children and adolescents. Two hundred sixty-one completed forms, representing approximately 45% of the society’s estimated active clinicians, were reviewed. Formal physical therapy was unlikely to be recommended by members of the society regardless of procedure, although postoperative home exercise was used by many after spondylolisthesis fusion. The majority of patients were returned to gym class between 6 months and 1 year (range, immediate to never) after surgery. Most respondents returned patients to noncontact sports between 6 months and 1 year postoperatively. Contact sports were generally withheld until 1 year after surgery. Close to 20% of respondents required, and 35% suggested, that patients never return to collision sports. Twenty percent of respondents for scoliosis and 5% for spondylolisthesis reported having notable adverse outcomes attributed to athletic activity. CONCLUSION: These survey results show the varying approaches taken by members of the Scoliosis Research Society to postoperative athletic activity, and they provide a starting point for investigations regarding alternative approaches.