Amy Sbihli

Therapist

My love of exercise and mind-body wellness turned into my lifelong career in physical therapy. My training began at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) as a student-athlete. I earned a degree in Kinesiology and high honors in NCAA Cross Country and Track. I left Ann Arbor, MI and moved to St Louis, MO to further my studies in Physical Therapy. I attained my Masters and later my Doctoral degrees at Washington University. These two schools taught me how to combine the orthopedic and neurological systems in a way to improve functional movement treatment approaches to patient care.

I found special interest in Pilates and manual orthopedic spine treatments before learning about the Schroth Method for treatment of scoliosis. Since 2005, I have traveled back and forth to Spain, Italy, and Germany learning the method as it has evolved. With it, I have combined all my areas of training to work almost exclusively with people of all ages who have scoliosis and related conditions.

It has been extremely rewarding to see the successes that patients find with non-surgical approaches to scoliosis treatment. Typically, a patient comes to their first appointment a little timid and unsure of what they are about to experience during a physical therapy evaluation. It is through the process of each patient sharing their story about doctor visits and potentially orthotist visits that I get to listen and learn about how I might best be able to facilitate physical, cognitive, and emotional support along their journey. After the evaluation, together, we design a plan that is a fit for the patient’s needs that will also optimize the best outcome.

During treatment, I customize each person’s program in a way that best fits their learning style and lifestyle. I seek ways to mingle the person’s current responsibilities, activities, and interests with new ideas about how and when to incorporate what they are learning in physical therapy into their life. This is how I am able to see high levels of home exercise adherence, which in turn leads to positive treatment outcomes.

Taking this love that I have for the Schroth Method and the patients I serve, four other early adopters of the method and I founded Schroth-Barcelona Institute (SBI), a US-based school to train physical therapists on the Schroth Method. This is the American branch of the International Barcelona Scoliosis Physical Therapy School (BSPTS). We educate physical therapists from around the world about non-surgical approaches of care for scoliosis. It is my mission through SBI and BSPTS to spread the word about the Schroth Method to support this underserved patient population. I have been so fortunate to both find something that I love to do and to help patients and the healthcare providers that serve them.

Nothing excites me more than to see one of my most timid patients offering to volunteer towards my mission and that of SBI’s. To carry out this mission, several times per year I teach courses for physical therapists to learn about and obtain certification in the Schroth Method. Part of these courses involves patient lab time. I offer civic duty volunteer credits for my patient-volunteers that offer their time during lab sessions. For me it is one of the most rewarding things to see a patient come to acceptance of themselves so deeply that they are willing to give back through the sharing of their body and condition to a community of learning therapists so that these PTs can go out into the world and in turn help others with scoliosis. The full circle that I see for these patients starts with the challenge of learning that you have a diagnosis. It is shortly followed by learning all the unknowns and what ifs about the future. Then, during physical therapy, the patient understands and takes actions toward wellness. The last step when some choose to volunteer shows acceptance. In the end, I see that these patients come out strong people: mentally, physically, and socially.

Outside of work I seek to be with my friends and family, preferably running, hiking with my new Australian Labradoodle Roo, biking, or any outdoor activity. I have the fortune of being married to an awesomely supportive husband and the mom of two fun-loving active boys.