Welcome Deborah Turnbull


Welcome Deborah Turnbull

BY Jon W

14 December 2017

Prior to joining LOC, Deborah started her own company – ScoliosisUK, treating patients by combining established conservative treatment methods to train the client’s in their individual back deformities, to halt and decelerate progressive curves, reduce muscle imbalances, avoid surgery and empower those with the condition.


What is the Schroth Best Practice Method?

It’s an exercise and postural therapy method developed in the 1920s in Germany by Katharina Schroth to reduce pain and prevent spinal curve progression in cases of scoliosis.

Schroth alone without bracing in the growing patient is not sufficient unless the patient has a curve of less than 25°. Anything over that tends to require a brace as well because the spine cannot maintain the load in the over-corrected positions consistently without continued support from a brace and therefore progression is much more likely.

Schroth adopts the well-established German three-dimensional approach to change the shape of the muscles, activate the over-long muscles in a short position and the short muscles in a stretched position. Rotational breathing exercises are also incorporated to reduce ribcage deformity. This method was developed for larger stiffer and mature curves.

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We are proud and excited to announce the arrival of a new scoliosis expert to our full-time scoliosis team, BSc. CSP, HCPC and Schroth certified physiotherapist - Deborah Turnbull. Debs joins Sally and David in our scoliosis clinic, based in Kingston but also reviews in Harley street and the Portland hospital CASS clinic. Deborah has over 10 years of experience in providing Schroth Method Physiotherapy to treat Scoliosis and has even co-authored research articles on the subject with Dr Weiss, grandson to the pioneer of the method - Katharina Schroth.

Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve abnormally to one side, with symptoms such as a visibly curved spine, pain, one shoulder higher than another, a difference in leg length, prominent rib cage or one shoulder or hip seeming more prominent than the other. There are several different types of scoliosis and the condition affects several age groups differently. For the most part, scoliosis is idiopathic, i.e. there are no known causes, accounting for 8 out of 10 cases.

Prior to this, Debs completed a BSc’s in Physiotherapy and Social Sciences and worked for 10 years at Ealing Hospital for the NHS. After almost a decade there, Deborah went on to work for the community rehab team in Hammersmith and Fulham community services. It was in 2007 when she first became certified and was awarded the certificate for the original Schroth method. Striving to reach an even greater level of expertise, Deborah then completed her accreditation in Best Practice Schroth in 2015.

Best Practice Schroth works especially well for the younger adolescents with scoliosis, particularly in pre-pubescent girls, providing the most effective loading through postural overcorrection and specific exercises. Speaking of her arrival at LOC, Deborah says: “I’ll only work in a company if they’re ethically good and they want to help the patient. The patient is the most important thing for me”.

“I’m hoping we can change some attitudes and spread some awareness about non-surgical scoliosis treatment, and that’s what I’m enjoying about working at LOC. Sometimes, when the consultants we work in conjunction with receiving an X-ray from one of our bracing cases, the improvement is so drastic, they don’t believe it’s the right X-Ray.”

“We’ll take whatever comes at us and we get through it. Saturdays for scoliosis are really busy but there’s a buzz in the physiotherapy clinic and the girls meet each other with their braces they are happy and they come out smiling. I come home from [LOC] and I’m exhausted, but I’m buzzing as I know we have helped people. It’s already like working with the dream team.”

So far at LOC Deborah has treated a range of patients of all ages with spinal deformities, and says “I like working with the adults, because they have been told that nothing will help them and they’re just so thankful that there is something that will help their pain and the way they look. One gentleman could previously barely walk, and he made the effort to come up to find me in the clinic to shake my hand and said, ‘Thank you so much. You’ve changed the way I think and use my back.’

Read more about the scoliosis programme at the London Orthotic Consultancy, or, if you’re worried that you or someone in your family has scoliosis, call 020 8974 9989 if you would like to book an appointment to see one of our team.



The operation used to treat severe scoliosis curves is typically spinal fusion surgery; a major procedure that involves moving muscles and realigning the skeleton into place. The curved, deformed vertebrae are fused together into a single bone, putting metal screws and rods into the spine to help straighten it. Surgery typically lasts between 4 and 8 hours depending on the severity of the curve. Bone graft is then taken from other parts of the body and used to cover the implants.

Following the operation, it is necessary to spend around a week in intensive care before returning home and the first few days are often uncomfortable. Most adolescents can expect to return to school from 2-4 weeks following surgery, but pain medication may be required up to 6 weeks following. A full recovery from the procedure can take up to a year, as it can take that long for the spine to heal fully.

Spinal fusion surgery causes the fused portion of the back to become permanently stiff, as a result, returning to sports that require large amounts of flexibility (ballet, yoga, gymnastics, dance) or contact (rugby, football, karate, hockey) may take longer.

Risks of spinal fusion surgery are like that of any other major procedure and include infection, blood clots and anaesthesia complications. The added risks include permanent nerve damage to the spine and paralysis.