You can’t be an Olympic swimmer with a twisted spine!

We believe progress comes from doing what can’t be done. 

Watch as Olympic swimmer Jessica Ashwood defies barriers to represent Australia at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.


Spinal deformities in a wild line of Poecilia wingei bred in captivity: report of cases and review of the literature.

Arbuatti A, Della Salda L, Romanucci M, Khan MZ.




Veterinary Practitioner, Mozzagrogna (Chieti), Italy.



To describe the occurrence of various spinal deformations in a captive-bred wild line of Poecilia wingei (P. wingei).


Fish belonging to a wild line of P. wingei caught from Laguna de Los Patos, Venezuela, were bred in an aquarium home-breeding system during a period of three years (2006-2009). The spinal curvature was observed to study spinal deformities in P. wingei.


Out of a total of 600 fish, 22 showed different types of deformities (scoliosis, lordosis, kyphosis), with a higher incidence in females. Growth, swimming and breeding of deformed fish were generally normal.


Possible causes for spinal curvature in fish are discussed on the basis of the current literature. While it is not possible to determine the exact cause(s) of spinal deformities observed in the present study, traumatic injuries, nutritional imbalances, genetic defects or a combination of these factors can be supposed to be involved in the pathogenesis of such lesions.

Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013 Mar;3(3):186-90. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60047-7.

A Tudor myth uncovered. Chairman of the BSRF comments on the recent confirmation of Richard III’s skeleton.

Is this Richard III, England's last Plantagenet king? 

So how do we know it's him? Has the body got a hunched back?

 We don't know it's him – yet – but yes, the skeleton does show signs of spinal curvature. Contemporary accounts, reinforced later by Shakespeare, described Richard III as being "hunchbacked". The newly found body appears to have scoliosis, a form of spinal curvature that would have made the man's right shoulder appear higher than the left shoulder. The classic "hunchback" is caused by kyphosis but there is no evidence of this in the Leicester skeleton.

On Wednesday, scientists were able to confirm that a skeleton discovered in a car park in Leicester was indeed that of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet monarch. In addition to the evidence of horrific injuries that lead to the King’s death, the most striking aspect of the King’s skeleton was his curved spine, confirming the presence of scoliosis. 

Richard was immortalized in a Shakespearian play as a deformed usurper who left a trail of bodies – including those of his two young nephews, murdered in the Tower of London – on his way to the throne. The discovery of his skeleton will undoubtedly spark a new interest in Richard III, and will hopefully open new discussions about his reputation and the condition from which he suffered: scoliosis. 

We have followed the emerging news stories and programs surrounding this discovery with interest. Mr Michael Edgar, FRCS, Chairman of the BSRF, wrote to The Times newspaper with the following comment:

“We applaud the ability of DNA analysis to clarify our history confirming that the Leicester car-park skeleton with its severe scoliosis was indeed that of Richard III thus giving more credence to Shakespeare’s ‘hunchback toad’ and verifying that this was no ‘Tudor Myth’. 

Modern genetic research is also being used to determine the cause of scoliosis affecting children and teenagers. Scoliosis is undoubtedly the main conundrum, yet unsolved, in current Orthopaedic Practice. The diagrammatic skeletal spine suggests that Richard’s curvature was of the developmental (so called idiopathic) type, which is genetically determined, and often inherited, rather than having been caused by childhood poliomyelitis or by a congenital spinal malformation. The ‘hunchback’ shape arises from a backwards rotation of the convex ribs which is unsightly and causes major psychological upset, especially as most sufferers are teenage girls. To quote Shakespeare (Richard III,1 i,9) many do feel ‘rudely stamped’ or ‘deformed, unfinished’. This rib-hump causes an upward displacement of the shoulder which can weaken the strength of some shoulder muscles making the arm seem like, to quote, a ‘blasted stripling’ though not ‘wither’d up’. If left untreated, marked curvatures will gradually deteriorate in adult life causing pain and more functional disability. 

Those of us, concerned in this field, hope that the wonders of DNA analysis will soon solve another riddle, this time medical and far more important than a historical anomaly.

Michael Edgar, Chairman, the British Scoliosis Research Foundation; Trustee the Scoliosis Association UK”




February 11, 2011 - Scoliotic Whale is seen near Hawaii's Kauai Island


CNN - February 11th, 2011 10:42 AM

Scoliosis, not collision, likely left whale bent, expert says

Experts are now saying a hobbled whale seen Monday near Hawaii's Kauai Island was not injured but suffers from a chronic condition, a local newspaper reports. The distressed humpback whale probably has scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, said David Schofield, marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser. Gerry Charlebois, owner and instructor of Birds in Paradise Flight School, spotted the whale from the air Monday and suspected the marine mammal had been injured by a ship.

Schofield discounted that diagnosis. "They're not like cartoon animals," he said, according to the Star Advertiser. "They don't hold the shape of the contusion. Sometimes they'll have like a little imprint, but it's just not too plausible to see that if the animal had been impacted there that the peduncle or the tail shaft would've stayed that way." The animal's pale, mottled skin and emaciated condition indicate it is in distress, but probably not from a ship collision, he told the paper. Much of the whale's behavior described by Charlebois is normal, he added.

AP/The Huffington Post :  First Posted: 02/11/11 06:52 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:30 PM

HONOLULU (AP) — Whale experts believe a sick whale spotted off Kauai this week may be suffering from scoliosis or curvature of the spine. It's a rare disorder but scientists say they have seen it in other marine mammals like dolphins.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's marine mammal response coordinator, David Schofield, says officials are confident the whale was either born with the condition or acquired it over the course of its life.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Friday Schofield ruled out a boat collision, saying it's not plausible an animal hit by a boat would have retained the shape of such an injury.

A flight instructor on Kauai spotted the white, emaciated whale with a severely deformed spine on Monday. He said the 50 foot whale "appeared to be bent in half."


Star advertiser POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 11, 2011

Scoliosis, not boat, likely cause of whale's deformity

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Experts believe a badly deformed humpback whale recently spotted off Kauai has scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. David Schofield, marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, provided information at a news briefing yesterday on the signs of a whale in distress.

At about 9:30 a.m. Monday, a white, emaciated whale with a severely deformed spine was photographed by a flight instructor off Port Allen, Kauai. The whale was last seen at 1 p.m. that day traveling west toward Waimea. Following news reports, NOAA received dozens of calls of possible sightings, but all were of healthy mammals. Schofield said officials are confident the whale has scoliosis, a defect the mammal was either born with or acquired over the course of its life. He ruled out a boat collision. "They're not like cartoon animals," he said. "They don't hold the shape of the contusion. Sometimes they'll have like a little imprint, but it's just not too plausible to see that if the animal had been impacted there that the peduncle or the tail shaft would've stayed that way."

Indicators of a distressed whale include a pale appearance caused by dying skin, and red patches on the skin from a proliferation of cyamids, crablike critters smaller than a pencil eraser. Healthy whales have a smooth body texture and are black to slate gray or light gray. It is considered normal for single whales or a mother and calf to swim close to shore, Schofield said.

Whales can be seen nesting in shallow water and as close as 100 yards to shore, he added. Nesting whales typically lie motionless at the surface of the water for extended periods of time, referred to as logging behavior.

Humpback whales migrate to Hawaii from Alaska to breed and give birth to their calves during the winter. Schofield said the whale might be observed breathing often. However, an adult whale might hold its breath for 20 to 30 minutes, which is normal, he said. If the distressed whale is spotted, Schofield requests the reporting vessel stay nearby until a team is deployed to monitor it.

November 15, 2011 - Beached whale with scoliosis gets back brace, physical therapy at SeaWorld

By Nadine Bells | Good News – Wed, 16 Nov, 2011.

This May, a pilot whale beached herself in the Florida Keys. SeaWorld Orlando's Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility brought her in for care. Nicknamed "300," the 1000-pound whale developed a curvature of the spine. To help the whale regain the proper use of her tail — hopefully without surgery — orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Philip Meinhardt and prosthetic expert Scott Saunders custom-made a back brace for the giant mammal.

SeaWorld claims it's the first back brace for an animal of its size. "The way this brace works, you have to apply tension in certain areas to try to correct this deformity," Meinhardt said.

As part of her scoliosis rehabilitation program, 300 gets physical therapy three times a day. "She's extremely docile," Scott Gearhart, senior staff veterinarian at SeaWorld, told the Orlando Sentinel. "She has a fantastic attitude."  Gearhart added that he'd like to see progress within the next few months since surgery is "an absolute last resort."

Surgeon Makes Back Brace... for Whale

Rescued SeaWorld pilot whale has scoliosis

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 15, 2011 6:35 PM CST

(Newser) – A whale nicknamed “300” beached herself in the Florida Keys this spring—but her troubles didn't end there. The pilot whale, transported to SeaWorld for care, developed curvature of the spine, which prevented her from using her tail correctly. Fortunately, an orthopedic surgeon and a prosthetics expert came to the rescue, custom-making a back brace for the creature, the Orlando Sentinel reports. It’s the first time such a device has been made for a large whale, SeaWorld says. Now, 300 is getting physical therapy three times a day as vets monitor her. “She has a fantastic attitude,” says one. The brace may help avoid surgery.

Whale with Scoliosis Fitted with Back Brace at SeaWorld

By Kyle MunzenriederMon., Nov. 14 2011 at 4:37 PM

?After beaching herself in the Florida Keys in May, a female pilot whale named "300" developed severe scoliosis during his rehabilitation at Sea World in Orlando. So, SeaWorld teamed with a Florida orthopedic surgery to create a special back brace for the whale. The scoliosis meant that 300 could not properly use her tail, which impeded her ability to swim. Obviously, when you're a whale, your swimming ability is of primary concern. So SeaWorld called up Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic and created a brace for the whale. While this if the first time such a device has been used on such a large whale, they hope that over time the whale's spine will straighten out enough so she can regain her proper swimming ability. Hopefully the other whales won't tease her, but we all know the gentle giants are nowhere nearly as cruel as middle schoolers.

Watch video of the poor whale, who clearly has a severely crooked spine, before the brace below:

Bracing scoliotic whale


Scoliotic whale Physiotherapy




Is Scoliosis a compressional distorsion?





From Malcolm Teasdale of Kiwirail: The state of the track at this site immediately after the earthquake (posted with permission):

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Is masticating chewing gum a solution to improve upright postural Stability?

Effect of masticating chewing gum on postural stability during upright standing

KUSHIRO Keisuke (1) ; GOTO Fumiyuki (2) ;
Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida-Nihonmatsu-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8501, JAPON(1)
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Hino Municipal Hospital, 4-3-1 Tamadaira, Hino-shi, Tokyo 191-0062, JAPON(2)
Résumé / Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of masticating chewing gum on postural stability during upright standing. To address this issue, 12 healthy subjects performed quiet standing on a force platform for the posturography study. The subjects were instructed to stand as stable as possible on the force platform in order to record the trajectory of the center-of-pressure (COP). After measuring the postural sway in the initial condition (pre-condition), the subjects were asked to stand while masticating chewing gum (gum-condition). Following the gum-condition, quiet standing without mastication was evaluated (post-condition) to ensure the effect of masticating chewing gum on postural stability. The trajectory and velocity of the COP were analyzed for each condition. We found that the postural stability tended to enhance during mastication of chewing gum. The rectangle area of the COP trajectory significantly diminished in the gum-condition and significantly enlarged in the post-condition. A similar effect was observed in the maximum velocity and standard deviation (SD) of the fore-aft amplitude of the COP trajectory. The values were significantly smaller in the gum-condition compared to those in the post-condition. These findings suggest that mastication of chewing gum affects the postural control by enhancing the postural stability during upright standing.

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Homo sapiens sites present overwhelming evidence of pervasive cultural practices. The multiple burials from central Europe is 26,000 years old.  The individual in the center of the burial had spinal scoliosis, an asymmetrical skull, and an under-developed right leg like poliomyelitis. The male on the left has a stake driven into his hip; a larger male on the far right lies face down. The male skulls were adorned with circles of arctic fox and wolf teeth and ivory bands.

From Stefano Négrini,

Dis Aquat Organ. 2009 May 27;85(1):59-66.

Effects of skeletal deformities on swimming performance and recovery from exhaustive exercise in triploid Atlantic salmon.

Powell MD, Jones MA, Lijalad M.

School of Aquaculture, Tasmanian Aquaculture and Fisheries Institute, University of Tasmania, Locked Bag 1370 Launceston, Tasmania 7250, Australia. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The occurrence of spinal deformity in aquaculture can be considerable, and a high rate of deformity has been suggested in triploid smolts in Tasmania. However, the physiological performance of fish with skeletal deformities has not been addressed. The swimming performance and oxygen consumption of triploid Atlantic salmon smolts with either a vertebral fusion (platyspondyly) or multifocal scoliosis were compared to normal (non-deformed) triploid smolts. Fish with vertebral fusion attained swim speeds similar to normal fish, whereas scoliotic fish were unable to attain comparable swim speeds. Routine and maximum oxygen consumption was higher for deformed fish compared with normal fish, translating into apparent increased routine metabolic scope in vertebral fusion fish, and equivocal scope in scoliotic fish compared with normal controls. Deformed fish developed a lower excess post-exercise oxygen consumption compared to non-deformed fish, suggesting they are either incapable of sustained anaerobic activity or possess an increased recovery capacity. These data suggest that skeletal deformity has differential effects on swimming performance depending upon the type of deformity but imposes a significant metabolic cost on salmon smolts.

PMID: 19593934 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]