3 Important Things You Can Learn About Communication from Scoliosis


Estimated reading time: 7.5 minutes

From the moment we’re born we rely on communication to connect with people. Body language, facial expressions, hand signs, emotions and words. Whichever means you use, they’re all important for establishing connections and being understood. 

After years of living with scoliosis, a condition involving the curvature of the spine, I’ve learnt the essence of communication and connections from a young age.

It’s one of the reasons why I became a writer – that love for linguistics and storytelling. 

But scoliosis comes with its own set of challenges. Challenges which also propelled me to follow my dream of becoming a small business owner. 

The lessons living with scoliosis has taught me are ones anyone can use. Fundamental pieces of the puzzle to forge long-lasting connections. 


The Valuable Influence of Communication 

You can apply the value of communication to many different circumstances. 

Businesses rely on good communication to connect with their audiences. Creatives articulate through music and art, plants talk to each other using the Internet of fungi, and the human body has two types of communication systems essential to its function. 

It’s the glue that holds any relationship together; defining connections and our ability to relate. 

But what happens when there’s a disruption in the interchange of information?

Scoliosis is a prime example of this. A communication breakdown inside the human body.   

Labelled the ‘invisible disability’ (that’s not so invisible for some), it results from a miscommunication between the brain and the body’s muscles and organs. 

While I believe in educating about the condition all year round, June is Scoliosis Awareness Month. So what better time to raise awareness of scoliosis and the importance of communication and connections? 


our-back-tell-stories-illustration-rumi
Artwork by Rupi Kaur.

Understanding Scoliosis 

For a long time scoliosis has been viewed as a curvature of the spine, but it’s much more extensive. 

The curvature is the most obvious and primary symptom, but not the whole condition. Scoliosis comes with nervous system abnormalities and abnormal bone and muscle growth that affect the brain and central nervous system. 

At the age of 6, I was diagnosed with one of the worst cases of idiopathic scoliosis, meaning the condition has no identifiable causes. Even after having spinal implants (Harrington rods), both curves are over 45°.

While my life has been filled with countless orthopedic and neurologist appointments, and major surgeries including learning how to walk again, there’s no cure for it. It’s a balance of managing, maintaining, understanding and adapting, as best as one can. 

Severe scoliosis impacts: 

  • Lung and heart function
  • Bone development
  • Chronic pain
  • The body’s nutritional resources
  • Neurological symptoms such as muscle weakness and nerve pressure
  • Hormones 
  • Posture, balance and body alignment 

Here’s what you can learn about communication and connections from scoliosis.


1. It Takes Two to Tango 

Communication and connections are interconnected.

When there’s a functional alignment between the two, communication is strong. 

It’s much like the human body where the spinal cord works in tandem with the brain. Picture your spine as an old-school phone operator that facilitates communication to various parts of your body. The spine relays messages from your brain and connects with nerves, arranged like wires in a phone cable. 

The same way your body relies on these connections to communicate is how you depend on an Internet connection to send and receive messages. 

Sometimes there are faults. 

Comparable to the famous tango, two must be in sync to work efficiently. This alliance is essential. Like a dance involving two people, marriage, a business partnership or the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang. 

Believe it or not, spinal alignment isn’t voluntarily controlled. It’s an automatic neurological orientation to gravity people take for granted. Behind the scenes, the brain is busy storing neurotransmitter patterns to develop this postural memory. 

Well, unless your brain is creating faulty variant patterns like mine.  

There’s a common misconception that scoliosis contributes to weak muscles. However, they’re far from fragile. They’re just not getting the right messages.


jayde-walker-post-scoliosis-surgery
Harrington rod implants from my surgery in 2003.

2. Connection Multiples Communication 

Once a connection is established, communication becomes almost effortless. 

People are bombarded by all kinds of communication. Every day, the average person consumes around 34 gigabytes of information. That’s an incredible amount for the brain to process.

It’s no wonder it acts as a filter to tune out excess noise. Your brain is busy focusing on what matters – information you connect with. 

Unless a viable connection is created, whatever message you or someone else is trying to relay can’t penetrate through. 

Remember, your heart doesn’t beat unless your brain tells it to. Through nerve connections in your spinal cord, neurons tell the rest of your body what to do. If the spine is significantly distorted, from scoliosis or a similar condition, it impairs the flow of information and disrupts the nervous system activity in problematic ways. 

When these connections aren’t aligned, communication fails. 

Whether you apply disconnection to the human body or everyday information and networks, you can expect to face obstacles. Important messages lost in translation. 


scoliosis-artwork-alexa

3. They Must be Nurtured to Keep the Spark 

Connections need to be nurtured to become and stay successful. 

Engaged nerve connections send the right messages to your body the same way engaged customers drive business. 

But without regular maintenance, connections can fall apart. 

The sooner you identify and fix communication breakdowns, the sooner you create sustainable connections with your audience and those around you. 


Scoliosis Awareness Month

Scoliosis Awareness Month educates about the importance of early detection. It’s designed to encourage people to learn the initial warning signs and check their children as soon as possible.

Although scoliosis is an incurable progressive disability, leaving it untreated only makes things worse. Treatment depends on the severity of the cobb angle, physical maturity and many other factors. 

As difficult as my journey is with scoliosis, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without its lessons, setbacks and silver linings. 

Living with any chronic illness or disability is always going to be painful and challenging. But thanks to a close support team, you realise just how valuable the right connections are to someone navigating a scoliosis diagnosis. 

scoliosis-awareness-month-ribbon

Three things you can do this month to spread awareness of scoliosis:

  1. Wear green, the colour for Scoliosis Awareness Month
  2. Check your children early and encourage family members to do the same 
  3. Share this article with your networks

scoliosis-fundraiser-swim-september-2014
At my scoliosis fundraiser swim in September 2014.

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10 Responses
  1. Pip

    Wow ! This women is so brave. Iโ€™m so proud of her. Extra proud cos she is my niece! I too have scoliosis and so does her cousin but not as severe as Jayde. She is a true warrior and campaigner to raise awareness.

  2. Alan

    Excellent article, brilliantly written with feeling and the conveyance of passion, hope and awareness for everyone in good or poor health.
    GD.

  3. Lesley Brent-White

    What a wonderful article! Having been regularly involved with you in your early years of wearing that awful body brace 23 hours a day, day in, day out, particularly during the heat of Summer I remember how even as a child you were so brave.

    You have come such a long way since then. You have gone through so much without complaint. Now you are helping others by sharing your knowledge,and advice. I am so proud of you Jayde. Love Nan

  4. Thanks, Nan. ๐Ÿ™‚ I actually came across a photo of someone using their old brace as a planter, which was a cool idea! Ah those days feel like a lifetime ago now xx

  5. Verge Colpo

    Wow Jayde! I knew that you have been suffering badly from your condition all of your life but what an eye-opening article you have written about scoliosis! I didn’t realise what an absolutely debilitating condition it is. I feel an even greater admiration for you after reading your article. You are an extremely courageous woman and I am certain all of your loved ones are very very proud of you!

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