Understanding scoliosis begins with identifying its location and the type of spinal curvature.

Knowing this information can help predict what types of scoliosis symptoms may be experienced and how the condition can best be treated.

There are several detailed systems for classifying specific types of scoliosis curves, but some of the most common terms identify curves based on their location within the spine and the direction they bend.

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Doctors prescribe scoliosis braces for one in five adolescents who have the condition. As a result, an estimated 30,000 children are wedged into braces each year. But to what end?

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.

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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.

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When you or your child has been diagnosed with scoliosis, the options can seem painfully limited. Patients who are unwilling to accept the typical solutions—bracing, surgery or “wait and see”—often struggle to find an alternative treatment that stops scoliosis progression without permanently damaging the spine.

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Being diagnosed – or having a child who is diagnosed – with idiopathic scoliosis can be a disconcerting, even scary, experience. After the diagnosis, you’ll be faced with lots of questions, and you’ll be uncertain about the future. What steps should you take? What steps should you avoid?

1) Find a Team You Can Trust

Though a GP or family doctor is important, for a specific medical condition like scoliosis, you’re going to want to see a specialist. To ensure that you can properly manage your or your child’s scoliosis, you want doctors who have spent their careers devoted to spinal health, who are up on the most recent research, and who are committed to helping you develop a plan that is specific to you and your condition. No two curves are alike, and your treatment plan should attest to that. The right doctor will help you realize that plan – so take your time to make sure you find the right doctor.

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Finding the right scoliosis treatment can be a long and frustrating journey. First you get the diagnosis and all the overwhelming emotions that come with it. Then you’re presented with the potential treatment options—usually bracing, surgery or “wait and see.” Finally there’s the endless digging, online or at the library, to find a better alternative.

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Treating scoliosis often feels like a race against an opponent with a head start. Once curves start progressing, parents and doctors can easily get caught up in reacting to the spine’s changes without ever managing to get ahead of the curve.

Unfortunately, scoliosis treatment for kids tends revolves around a single-minded focus—preventing curve progression—without full consideration for the child’s long-term quality of life. While traditional treatments can achieve some initial curve reduction, over the course of a lifetime they can also cause significant harm. Bracing, for example, might seem like the best course of action now, when your most pressing concern is to avoid reaching the surgical threshold, but what about 25 years from now? Or 50 years?

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If your child has just been diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, you’re probably trying to figure out what to do next. This decision is probably made more difficult by the fact that you’re probably still trying to separate scoliosis fact from fiction – and unfortunately, your doctor might not be up to date on all the current realities about scoliosis. There are a series of myths about scoliosis, and they’re often used by doctors to justify expensive, invasive spinal fusion surgery, even though it might not be the best option for your child.

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We all remember the shock, horror, and complete disbelief of the tragic events that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001. Most of us simply couldn’t wrap our collective heads around the very idea or concept that people would hijack jet planes and convert them into 600 mph weapons of mass destruction. Immediately, fingers were pointed and blamed assigned to the various intelligence agencies whom missed opportunity after opportunity to prevent the attacks, yet failed to do so. Years later the “9/11 report” concluded the biggest failure with in the intelligence community was simply “a failure of imagination.” The intel analysists had simple become so complacent they couldn’t even imagine a “low tech” threat causing so much harm.

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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.

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