About Us

The Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program (ISOP) is under the direction of its founder, mother Heather Hyatt Montoya, and is a program of Ability Connection Colorado, a nonprofit organization established in 1946 by nine mothers seeking equal participation in life for their children.

Heather’s daughter, Olivia, developed Progressive Infantile Scoliosis (PIS), a rare and potentially fatal form of spinal defect that can develop in babies and toddlers. It is not simply a curve to one side, but a more complex, 3-dimensional deformity. Diagnosis of this progressive form of scoliosis, by definition, will not self-resolve and requires EARLY intervention.

In her desperate and time sensitive search for non-surgical treatment approaches for her daughter Olivia’s PIS, Heather began searching internationally, pre internet, in hopes of finding someone to help her daughter.


Founding Mother Heather Hyatt Montoya with daughter Olivia

Dr. Mehta casting child

 Dr. Min Mehta

Three years into her research, Heather found a pediatric spine surgeon named Min Mehta,MD, FRCS.  Dr. Mehta, a scoliosis sufferer herself, improved the EDF (Elongation, Derotation, Flexion) casting technique that she learned from Dr.’s Morel & Cotrel to accommodate her rapidly growing, young scoliosis patients.  Dr. Mehta modified the original EDF type of cast to fit the bodies of growing infants and young children.  She developed a gentle derotational maneuver to assist in derotating the child’s spine in every cast.  She applied her specialized EDF casting to her young patients EARLY.  Dr. Mehta knew that the “wait and watch,” approach to treating this life-shortening condition was NOT an effective approach to treating this rapidly progressive condition.  Dr. Mehta found that EARLY TREATMENT and spine derotation were KEY in resolving PIS, gently and permanently.

Early Detection, Early Treatment

Early detection and Early Treatment (ET) are vital to combating and curing PIS, but sadly, scoliosis screening is not part of Well Baby/Well Child Checklists in the US. With your help, ISOP can change this.

Current medical wisdom supports Dr. Mehta’s conservative, non-invasive treatment should be the first line of defense when treating PIS.  There are now multiple, published journals (evidence) on the effectiveness of curing infants and young children, early.  There are also published articles on the effectiveness of maintaining severe and relentless curve(s) in order to buy valuable growth time, prior to repeated spine surgeries.  Utilizing Mehta type casts have the ability to buy valuable growth time for heart & lungs.  They can also level the shoulders/hips, reduce the rib hump deformity and maintain lung space.

No one knows better than Heather how crucial EARLY DETECTION and EARLY TREATMENT are.  Olivia, aka Liv, did not have access to Mehta’s Growth Guidance Casting (MGGC) until May 2005.  Joining the Ability Connection of Colorado team allowed Heather to fund raise for the money needed to bring Dr. Mehta to the US to train the medical team at the Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake City.  Liv received her first Mehta Cast at age 5 with curves over 100 degrees.  The cast applied by Dr. Mehta decreased Liv’s dangerous, thoracic curve to the high fifties.  Unfortunately, it was too late for Liv to attain a cure.  Mehta Casting bought Liv 5 more years of valuable growth time, prior to surgical intervention.  Sadly, Liv endured many repeated, risky and painful spine surgeries, as a result of not having access to MGGC.

This outcome did not deter Heather from helping other families of children with PIS. By establishing the Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program, Heather has become an invaluable resource, helping families across the country become better educated about the advances in treating scoliosis, as well as finding appropriate, early treatment for their children with PIS.

Mehta’s Growth Guidance Casting

The casting protocol developed by orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Min Mehta is a set of treatment principles that specifically adapts EDF (extension, derotation and flexion) Casting to treat infants and toddlers. During the first two years of life, the human body grows at an extremely rapid rate – Mehta Casting allows this vigorous natural growth to act as the corrective force and straighten the spine three-dimensionally. All the while children run, jump, play, laugh, grow and thrive in Mehta Casts.

It cannot be overstated that Early Detection and Early Treatment dramatically lessens the number of casts required and the total time a child needs to spend in casts. This is the only evidence based, non-invasive, corrective treatment for PIS and should be available to all children. YES – Early Detection & Early Treatment with Mehta Casting can cure Progressive Infantile Scoliosis!

Training Surgeons in Mehta Principles

In conjunction with host hospitals , ISOP organizes, free, hands-on Mehta Cast training to medical professionals throughout the U.S. and internationally.  Until Heather Hyatt Montoya created ISOP as an advocacy resource, Early Treatment via Mehta Casting was unavailable in the US. Your donation to ISOP makes this Training possible.

ISOP advocates for:

  • Early Detection at all Well Baby/Well Child Checkups.
  • Early Treatment with Mehta Growth Guidance Casting (MGGC), the only nonsurgical, conservative treatment for infants and young children with progressive infantile scoliosis
  • Halo Gravity Traction (HGT), a gentle approach in treating severe scoliosis in young children, either to buy valuable growth time or achieve safe and gentle correction prior to definitive procedure (fusion).

ISOP provides:

Learn more about Heather and Olivia’s remarkable journey:

The Greatest Gift – Experimental scoliosis procedure gives toddler new hope.
Denver Rocky Mountain News Thursday, December 19, 2000

Read more

801 Yosemite Street   |   Denver, CO 80230   |   303.691.9339   |   info@abilityconnectioncolorado.org