Category Archives: Scoliosis Bracing
The management and treatment of children diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis has historically been and continues to be dictated (or at minimum heavily influenced) by the orthopedic surgeons not just in the US, but worldwide. The orthopedic actual treatment scope and specialty focuses almost exclusively on the advancement of surgical techniques and outcomes in the United States but treatment focus can vary greatly in other countries within the orthopedic specialist communities where there is specific focus on the advancement and outcomes of rigid spinal orthotics, otherwise known as scoliosis braces.
Despite the fact that scoliosis bracing has existed for centuries and has been considered the standard surgery prevention tactic since the modern brace was invented in the 1940s, there is little evidence to support its effectiveness.
One of the most common questions I get from parents and patients is how does the ScoliSMART Activity Suit compare to the Spine Corporation (SpineCor) Brace?
We shouldn’t simply compare, but rather contrast the differences!
The ScoliSMART Activity Suit is to the SpineCor Brace as apples are to oranges — they are different products, designed to do different things and yield different results. Perhaps the only thing they have in common is that both are used to treat patients with scoliosis — kids and adults.
Time and time again, parents sit across from me in my office describing the gut wrenching experience they endured during their child’s first brace fitting. Watching their child melt down in tears, complain about not being able to breath, and seeing the panic in their eyes when the doctor tells them they have to wear it 23 hours a day for the next 2-3 years. I also feel a sense of how disturbed these parents felt at that very moment, because they almost always seem to be looking straight through me as they tell the story.
Trapped inside a scoliosis brace for 16 hours a day over two years, young Leah LaRocco suffered both physical and emotional scars. Now, as she looks back at that time in her life, she calls the contraption a “modern-day straight jacket for teenage girls” and compares spinal braces to “medieval torture devices.”
When Leah LaRocco’s doctor prescribed a back brace to halt the progress of her scoliosis curves, sleep became a nightmare.
“If I lay on my side, the pressure pads would dig into my body, leaving bruises,” she said of her teenage years lying prone in a brace all night. “If I lay on my back, the top of the brace would dig into my neck. If I lay on my stomach, the front of the brace would constrict and pinch my skin.”
Adolescent scoliosis is one of those tricky conditions that can evade detection for a long time after it develops. Its subtle symptoms are often dismissed until a rapid growth phase causes the spine’s abnormal curve to suddenly worsen.
Even then, scoliosis can continue to fly under the radar while the curve progresses. In one study, patients with moderate to severe scoliosis went undiagnosed more than 10 percent of the time.
Doctors have been treating scoliosis for millennia, yet they’ve made little progress in understanding what provokes the condition. Most cases arise from unknown causes, and most treatments consequently take one of three forms: Watch and wait, wear a brace or get surgery.
Scoliosis braces have long been the primary method for preventing surgery in young patients whose spines are still developing. Some adults also wear them to counteract the painful effects of adult scoliosis. However, the use of this treatment differs dramatically between the two age groups.