Do all scoliosis patients wear braces?
No, in some cases, when the curvature is determined to be too severe for effective bracing, surgery is needed to straighten the spine. In other cases, a mild curvature may be watched to show signs of progression and may not need bracing. Physical therapy and strengthening exercises may also be used in conjunction with bracing or on their own for milder curvatures that do not show signs of progression. See our resource section for more information and links on physical therapy for scoliosis.
How long does typical bracing treatment last?
Bracing for scoliosis typically begins during adolescence and continues until children complete their growth. This is true in adolescent cases of scoliosis, but patients suffering from juvenile or infantile scoliosis can experience a much longer course of treatment which may last until they are finished growing. For girls, this is usually 18 months to two years after the start of menstruation.
When do patients need surgery?
A patient may be considered a candidate for surgery when the spinal deformity has reached 45-50 degrees or more. Scoliosis surgery is a major step and is a decision that should be made through consultations with several orthopedic surgeons who specialize in scoliosis surgery. Not all patients with this degree of curvature will need to undergo surgery.
Can bracing correct a scoliosis curvature?
Bracing has come a long way in the last 20 years. With the customized Rigo-Cheneau bracing system, we have seen excellent results with patients who comply with the recommend wear time for their brace. While the goal with bracing is foremost to stop the progression of a curvature, we have seen improvement occur in some cases.
How many hours do you need to wear the brace?
Each orthopedic doctor has a wearing protocol. We suggest that braces should be worn 21 hours per day. However, depending on the extent of curvature and age of the patient, we have also had success with night time bracing schedules. This is decided on a case-by-case basis and through consultation with your orthopedic surgeon.
What is the best bracing method for most scoliosis curves?
We primarily use the Rigo-Cheneau bracing methodology. There is more information on this in the “Treatments” and/or “Resources” section of our website. This bracing method has a long history of success in Europe and is our brace of choice in most situations.
Are the scoliosis braces comfortable to wear?
After an initial period of a few days, the brace becomes surprisingly comfortable for our patients. Some even feel uncomfortable when not wearing it. Patients become especially attached to sleeping in their braces at night. Luke and Michael have so much experience fitting patients in these braces that there is little discomfort in brace wearing after the first week.
Is the brace uncomfortable in the hot summer months?
When the weather gets hot, wearing a brace can become uncomfortable. You may find the need to spend more time in an air conditioned environment, but swimming is also a good break from brace wearing and most doctors allow extra time out of the brace for sports and swimming activities during the summer months.
Do the braces show under clothes?
The brace is form fitting and therefore does not show underneath clothing very much. However, we have learned some fashion tips from our patients that we have added to our website. Please visit our “Bracing and Fashion” section for more information on how to dress when wearing a brace. Also visit the curvy girl support group for even more fashion tips.
Can patients put on the brace themselves?
Yes. The straps are on the front of the brace to allow the patient to take the brace on and off, or adjust the fit accordingly.
Can you review the treatment process from the first visit through subsequent visits to your office?
Your first visit to our office will consist of an initial consultation. At this time, we will meet the patient and parents, go through your treatment plan as well as discuss any questions that you may have since being diagnosed with scoliosis. We will then schedule a brace casting or CAD (computer-aided design) appointment so we can begin creating your customized brace. You will also have the opportunity to pick the color and design pattern of your choice for your brace.
The next appointment will be for the fitting of your brace. You will then take your brace home and wear it a few hours a day on a limited schedule until you get used to it. Eventually, you will work up to full-time wear and this usually takes only a matter of weeks. We stay in contact with you during this transition to make sure all of your questions are answered and you are adjusting well. After a week to 10 days, we will schedule your first follow up appointment to make any necessary adjustments and make sure that you are comfortable with your brace. Follow-up visits after this are usually scheduled in conjunction with your visits to your orthopedic surgeon and at regular intervals of 4 to 6 months, you will be meeting with your orthopedic surgeon and with us. At these visits, we will review your most recent x-rays and reports from your doctor as well as make any necessary adjustments to your brace. We’ll also check to make sure you are not in need of a new one due to your growth.
Do patients grow out of the brace and need a new one or can you adjust it?
Most of our patients usually require adjustments to their brace after approximately 9-12 months, however; a new brace may have to be created at that point to account for the patient’s growth.
How often will we have to visit your office?
We will see you often in the first few months after becoming our patient and we will schedule regular follow up appointments with you and in conjunction with your doctor visits. These follow up appointments and checkups are crucial to successful bracing since the brace needs to fit properly and be adjusted accordingly for growth in order for treatment to be successful. See our bracing checklist.
Will you work directly with my doctor?
Yes, we work with doctors from all over the world. Some patients visit us from foreign countries and we work in conjunction with their doctors from their home country. For these patients we may be initially charged with creating their braces and then they are seen by their home doctors. However, we consult with their doctors and help these patients with their treatment as much as possible. We also work with American orthopedic surgeons throughout our country and have an excellent reputation for performing detailed work and creating the best existing scoliosis braces in the industry.
Do you need a prescription to fabricate a brace?
Yes, a medical prescription is required for fabricating a scoliosis brace. You must first see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and to get a prescription for us to create your brace.
Do your braces come in different colors and patterns?
Yes, they do. When you come in for your brace appointment and we create your CAD (computer aided design) or your brace cast, you will be able to select your colors and patterns. You will be amazed at how many options we have for colors and patterns!
What about physical activities?
It is important for scoliosis patients to stay active and they may participate in sports, gym class and extracurricular activities. In most cases, doctors will allow patients to have regular out-of-brace time for sports activities.
What about diet and nutrition?
Good nutrition and healthy eating is essential for all patients. A diet low in fat and high in protein, with plenty of fruits and vegetables is a great place to start.
Is Schroth therapy appropriate for everyone?
Schroth therapy is appropriate for children and adults with scoliosis who are looking to decrease pain, improve aesthetics, improve posture, regain balance and improve respiratory function. In general, girls under the age of 8 and boys under the age of 10 have difficulty maintaining the focus and commitment to the program, so a case by case assessment should be made.
What are the exercises like?
The exercises focus on breathing, posture, elongation, balance, strength and endurance in the corrected posture. A certain amount of focus in required for these exercises, but it is not like running a marathon.
What equipment do I need?
Many exercises use wall bars, but for those who can not install them in their home, we are able to modify the exercises to meet your particular needs. Many of the other ‘tools’ needed for the exercises can be found in your home or purchased inexpensively.
What do I need before my first physical therapy appointment?
You will need a doctor’s prescription for Physical therapy using the Schroth method. In addition, a recent xray is needed to determine your curve measurements, curve pattern and to know if any exercises are contra-indicated based on your particular issues.
What do I wear during my therapy session?
It is recommended that women wear a sports bra or bathing suit top that is NOT a ‘T back’ so we can examine the spine easily. You will also need to see your back during the therapy session so you can see your corrections. Shorts, sweatpants, etc are all acceptable.
How many sessions do I need?
Each treatment plan is based on the individuals’ needs. Adolescents often participate in an intensive program for 2 hours/day for 2 weeks (M-F) with additional follow up to monitor the status of the exercise program. Some people can not tolerate that level of intensity due to age, attention span, decreased flexibility in the spine, etc. An initial consultation is a great way to work with your therapist to determine the program that is best for you.