I still remember all the questions that popped into my head when my wife called me and said that our daughter might have scoliosis. She had just left the pediatrician’s office with instructions to have an X-ray taken and to see an orthopedic specialist. I knew scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, but I had no idea what would come next. Would my daughter need a brace? What would that brace look like? Would my daughter be able to continue dancing, or would this limit her? How do I find the right practitioners? What is the sequence of treatment? How will all the practitioners communicate? One thing that I knew for certain: my wife and I would be the very best advocates for our daughter and would seek the best care, treatment, and practitioners available.
Would my daughter need a brace? What would that brace look like? Would my daughter be able to continue dancing, or would this limit her? How do I find the right practitioners? What is the sequence of treatment? How will all the practitioners communicate?
Luckily, we found a facility where many of the practitioners involved were all in one place. And, those practitioners just happen to be some of the best in their respective fields. Going a step further, that facility and its chief orthotist were known for embracing a compassionate, long-term approach with patients. As a result, we were happy to travel around both the Baltimore and Washington D.C. beltways to see Luke Stikeleather at National Scoliosis Center in Fairfax, Virginia. The only unfortunate thing is that the second office of National Scoliosis Center, located in Towson, Maryland, was still just an idea in Luke’s head during the time of my daughter’s treatment.
At National Scoliosis Center (NSC) we found a practice with the following:
Certified Orthotists. An orthotist is a medical professional that produces, and manages orthoses — in this case, our daughter’s scoliosis back brace. At National Scoliosis Center, Luke Stikeleather heads up the team of certified orthotists that focus solely on scoliosis. In fact, Luke is an internationally recognized expert and thought leader in the area of scoliosis. He pioneered the use of the highly effective and customized Rigo Cheneau Scoliosis Back Brace in North America and continues to stay abreast of developments and evolving technology, so he and his team are able to provide the very best care to NSC patients.
Physical Therapists. Physicians often recommend physical therapy in conjunction with a back brace for the treatment of scoliosis. The Schroth Method of physical therapy works in conjunction with the Rigo Cheneau Brace for scoliosis patients. It focuses on breathing, rebuilding muscular symmetry, posture awareness, and education. National Scoliosis Center currently offers Schroth Method physical therapy at its Fairfax location.
Low-Dose X-Ray Services. As a scoliosis patient, our daughter required X-Rays to fully diagnose the curve and later, to monitor curve changes. This resulted in a minimum of three X-Ray sessions per year over the course of several years. As a parent and advocate for my daughter, I was happy that National Scoliosis Center offered low-dose radiation with the EOS® imaging system. The EOS® imaging system employs Nobel Prize-winning technology to produce high-quality, extremely detailed, 3D images with significantly less radiation exposure than a traditional X-ray. As a bonus, EOS® scans do not require “stitching” of two X-Rays so they are actually more accurate and better quality.
Coordination of Care. Over time, we discovered that Luke and the other NSC orthotists routinely meet with our orthopedic specialists from Johns Hopkins to discuss current treatment protocols and methods. We even observed that there were times our daughter’s orthopedic specialist would directly email NSC with recommendations and requests; and NSC would always address them. Similar coordination of care occurs with the referring providers from Children’s National Hospital, Penn State Children’s Hospital (Hershey Campus), Pediatric Specialists of Virginia, and others.
About 5 years ago, the diagnosis of scoliosis generated concerns and questions for my daughter, my wife, and me. As advocates for our daughter, my wife and I were committed to finding the right practitioners to guide us through the treatment plan and the best back braces. At National Scoliosis Center, we found a facility where all of the practitioners are at the top of their respective fields, where they are located in one practice, where they all communicate with each other and with us in a cohesive and compassionate manner, and where relationships with the patient and parents matter.
Luke Stikeleather of National Scoliosis Center puts it best, “We work closely with you and your physician to tailor a program of care that will take care of your child for the long haul.”