Hokkaido University researchers have developed a symmetry-recognition system for the surface of the human back that can three-dimensionally detect the early stages of idiopathic scoliosis, a type of spinal deformity, without the help of a specialist doctor.
Individuals with idiopathic scoliosis, many of whom are pubescent girls, suffer from serious curvature of the spine. The disease has a characteristically high affliction rate, affecting one in 50 people.
Early detection of the progressive ailment is regarded as essential for treatment, as it is effective to wear a special brace when the spine is curved by 30 degrees or more. In recent years, genetic study of the disease has progressed, boosting the development of treatments.
In accordance with stipulations in the Japanese School Health and Safety Act, elementary and junior high schools conduct physical check-ups aimed at detecting idiopathic scoliosis. However, the law leaves it up to the respective medical associations or education boards in each municipality to decide how to conduct the checks, giving rise to regional gaps in the detection rate. Another related problem is the burden placed on doctors who have to examine a large number of students within a limited time frame.
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