In the News

Philadelphia Tether for Scoliosis

HSG Surgeon Dr. Amer Samdani of Shriner’s Hospital – Philadelphia, discusses VBT (tethering) to treat scoliosis

“The ability to utilize a child’s growth to correct the curve in their back is a leap in the way these children are treated – properly selected patients can achieve curve correction while maintaining mobility,”says Amer Samdani, chief of surgery, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Philadelphia.

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Children Spinal Health: Avoid back pain and injuries from heavy backpacks

August 13, 2018
By: Carlos Amezcua from KUSI News, San Diego

Dr. Peter Newton, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon with Rady Children’s Hospital visited the studio to share some information about how kids can avoid back pain and complications from heavy backpacks.

Dr. Peter Newton is chief of the division of Orthopedics & Scoliosis at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and a clinical professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

The Spine Center cares for infants, children, adolescents and young adults. They are nationally recognized for our patient care, education and research capabilities in the field of spinal deformity (scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, spondylolysis), trauma, tumors, congenital malformations and other spine conditions. Peter Newton, M.D., an internationally recognized leader in pediatric spinal conditions, directs the Scoliosis Service. Patients from around the world come for treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, neuromuscular scoliosis, congenital scoliosis and failed prior surgery for scoliosis.

After earning his degree in bioengineering, Dr. Newton attended the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School. He completed his residency at UC San Diego, followed by a fellowship in pediatric orthopedics and scoliosis at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas.

Dr. Newton primarily treats scoliosis and other spinal conditions, such as vertebral fractures. On the research side, he has been involved in more than 140 studies; among his areas of focus are spine surgery, scoliosis without spinal fusion, and orthopedic biomechanics. He has also authored numerous books and book chapters.

His professional affiliations include membership in numerous pediatric orthopedic organizations, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Scoliosis Research Society and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, where he was a former president.

Click here to see the full video interview.

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Postoperative Motion Study

By: Emma Rooholfada, Student Writer


Research in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) has progressed substantially in recent decades. However, researchers and patients still have many unanswered questions regarding the different treatment methods and their effects. The Harms Study Group (HSG) currently has many studies that need more resources. One such study analyzes postoperative motion in AIS patients.

This study aims to shed light on two questions: how the fused, motionless upper segments of the spine affect the motion of the unfused segments below, and whether or not that motion changes over time after a fusion.

Postop Motion X-ray with a left and right bends.

According to Executive Research /Director, Michelle Marks, “Understanding how the spine moves when a fusion is performed is really critical because we need to understand whether potential altered movement is related to disc degeneration.”

Researching postoperative motion can also impact surgical treatment for prospective AIS patients. Surgeons are learning that long fusions may potentially negatively impact disc health, thus strengthening the case for shorter fusions.

The study group has gathered data from patients at the ten-year postoperative point. They have analyzed patients with varying degrees and forms of AIS in hopes of determining the relationship between different types of curves and treatment methods, and motion after surgery. Colleagues of HSG have carried out similar studies in the past using a motion analysis lab. However, the technology in such labs has proved unsuccessful in measuring the motion of individual spinal segments. Instead, HSG has turned to a new method.

“We perform x-rays in maximal bending to the right and maximal bending to the left, and we do a calculated motion between the two angles to each side,” Marks said.

Dr. Baron Lonner, surgeon member of HSG, is studying disc health in AIS patients. Lonner has evaluated radiographic markers of disc degeneration in patients at the ten-year postoperative point.

“We’re hoping to look at the relationship between what I’m finding in alterations in motion and what Dr. Lonner’s finding on radiographic markers of disc degeneration,” Marks said.

Unfortunately, the study lacks proper funding. When the study first began, SSS acquired a grant from the Scoliosis Research Society. Since then, SSS has funded the study, but demands from other areas have left the study of postoperative motion without financial backing.

Hopefully, with the contributions of patient families and supporters of AIS research, the clinical questions of postoperative motion may soon be answered.

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SSSF 3rd Annual Power Over Scoliosis Family Educational Program was a SUCCESS!

Families from all over Southern California and throughout the nation, gathered on June 2, 2018, for a day of learning, camaraderie, and fun, at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego!
197 people attended this year’s Power Over Scoliosis program! From MD’s to RN’s, orthotists and industry sponsors, researchers and parent ambassadors, volunteers, and beloved scoliosis patients, each person represented the unique and important roles we all play in this multifaceted Scoliosis Community.

Chairmen, Drs. Peter Newton and Burt Yaszay, and esteemed faculty, dedicated an entire year of collaboration to put together the 2018 Power Over Scoliosis program in San Diego.

As a result, patients and families shared their stories as attendees gleaned tips for successfully navigating their family’s scoliosis journey. Most importantly, families left feeling supported and heard.

This year’s Power Over Scoliosis program was financed through sponsorships & donations received from last year’s program in Miami.

Everyone who attended Power Over Scoliosis in support of a loved one with scoliosis!

Patient & parent ambassadors for sharing your story and being a resource of hope and support.

Faculty and chairmen, Drs. Peter Newton & Burt Yaszay, for crafting a powerful, intuitive, and comprehensive program agenda.

Sponsors, event staff, and volunteers for working together to ensure a fantastic experience was had by all.

For those who would like to learn more about scoliosis research, volunteering, or underwriting future family educational programs, contact Chloe Petch at cpetch@ssshsg.org.

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Give BACKS Hope

In San Diego, over 100,000 individuals have scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine affecting people of all ages, from infancy through adulthood. The majority of those affected however, are adolescents.

Since 2008, the Setting Scoliosis Straight Foundation (SSSF), headquartered in San Diego, has supported families impacted by spine disorders by providing access to medical research, family-friendly educational tools, and a safe online platform for patients to share their stories.

The mission of SSSF is to advance treatment and improve care in children with spinal deformities by supporting the efforts of the Harms Study Group (HSG), a research team comprised of 38 surgeon volunteers spanning across the United States and Canada. Named after Professor Juergen Harms, a world-renowned spinal deformity surgeon, the HSG has pioneered new innovations in scoliosis treatment which has improved the lives of children with spinal deformities for over twenty years. Today, their decades of hard work has laid the foundation for what is now considered one of the leading health development research organizations in the world.

Dr. Peter Newton

At the helm of the Harms Study Group is Dr. Peter Newton, Chief of Orthopedics at Rady Children’s Hospital and President of the Setting Scoliosis Straight Foundation. Dr. Newton, a California native, made his way to San Diego to earn his undergraduate degree at UCSD in Bioengineering. After attending medical school at the University of Texas, Dr. Newton returned to UCSD to complete his orthopedic surgery training. 25 years ago he accepted a position as a Pediatric Orthopedic Spine Surgeon at what is today, Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego. He and his wife, Cathy, have three children, Alison, Kira, and Walker, all of whom attended Francis Parker, and after graduating college returned to San Diego to pursue their careers.

Dr. Newton’s passion for research and leadership has allowed him to serve as President of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America and most recently, incoming President of the Scoliosis Research Society. It is his unwavering commitment to the families he serves, and the city he calls home, which makes him a dedicated and valuable leader in our community.

With June designated as National Scoliosis Awareness month, SSSF is hosting back-to-back community events on June 1 & 2, 2018, and hopes to gain the support of San Diegans to help spread the word and donate to pediatric spinal deformity research.

Give Back Hope Event, San Diego

On June 1, 2018, SSSF is hosting Give BACKS Hope, a scoliosis awareness and fundraising event at UCSD’s Great Hall. This event brings together San Diego’s scoliosis community to applaud courageous patient ambassadors while raising funds for pediatric spine research. This event is led by co-chairs, Alan Olsen, an SSSF board member, along with, Richard & Kristine Gelbart and Howard Greenberg, both whose daughters had their scoliosis surgery performed by Dr. Newton.

In addition, SSSF is hosting an all-day educational event at Rady Children’s Hospital on Saturday, June 2, 2018, and inviting families from all over Southern California to attend.

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