Unlike most orthotists, we specialize exclusively in scoliosis and spinal conditions that require bracing. Our team takes a holistic approach to treating scoliosis—providing custom braces, low-dose EOS X-ray imaging, collaboration with area Schroth physical therapists (specialized physical therapy for scoliosis patients), and caring for each patient’s overall well-being. Everyone who works in our office has somehow been touched by scoliosis either directly or personally and we understand the challenges that go along with it.
Our mission is to provide the best non-operative, evidence-based, care to patients diagnosed with scoliosis by helping them progress to maturity without needing surgery.
We collaborate with each patient’s physician and their family in developing and implementing a complete treatment plan. When working with physicians, we try and accommodate same-day-appointments where possible—meaning, we try and see patients immediately following an orthopedic check-in so that adjustments, and or new custom braces can be created promptly, efficiently, and, most importantly, effectively.
Evidence-Based Treatment Solutions
At the National Scoliosis Center, we pride our work on evidence-based medicine, innovation, and our constant involvement in continued education, global research societies, and clinical research. We are actively involved in the Scoliosis Research Society, Society for Scoliosis and Orthopeadic and Rehabilitation Treatment (SOSORT) and supporters of Curvy Girls, Setting Scoliosis Straight Foundation, Scolios-Us the National Scoliosis Foundation.
Numerous studies over the years have shown that early-intervention and bracing is a proven solution in avoiding operations for scoliosis. National Scoliosis Center’s founder, Luke Stikeleather, has treated patients with scoliosis since 1988; however, in 2004 he began using the Rigo Cheneau brace (introducing it to North America) as his primary scoliosis brace because of the results he witnessed after meeting Dr. Manuel Rigo and Dr. Jacques Cheneau in Europe.
As of 2021, Luke has treated over 6,500 patients using the Rigo Cheneau brace*. Of those 6,500+ patients using the Rigo Cheneau, approximately 90% have had successful results—meaning no surgery was needed. Of that 90%, 60% of these patients saw curve stabilization—an important outcome considering the progressive nature of scoliosis, especially during the adolescent years. And, more than 30% actually experienced curve improvement. Bracing failures, the remaining 10%, were often due to large magnitude curves (3%) at initial treatment or patient non-compliance (7%). Read about NSC’s client success stories.
*We do offer other brace designs at the physician’s request.
Conclusion on Bracing:
Bracing significantly decreased the progression of high-risk curves to the threshold for surgery in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
Rigo Cheneau Brace
Our brace of choice for treating scoliosis is the Rigo Chenau brace because it addresses the 3D nature of scoliosis (rotation of the spine). We use state-of-the-art CAD/CAM technology to digitally scan each patient’s unique body as the blueprint for each brace. Our chief orthotist, Luke Stikeleather, then designs and creates each custom brace in our facility. Compression points and breathing points are unique for each patient and each brace. In addition, our success with the scoliosis patients using a Rigo Cheneau brace has seen a marked and measurable reduction in spinal curvatures, which of course is our goal at the National Scoliosis Center (see evidence-based treatment solutions above).
Conclusions from studies on the Rigo Cheneau Brace:
Patients treated with RCOs [Rigo Cheneau] compared with Boston-style TLSOs had similar baseline characteristics and brace wear time yet significantly lower rates of spinal surgery. Patients with RCOs [Rigo Cheneau] also had lower mean and percent major curve progression versus those with TLSOs.
–MINSK, M., VENUTI, K., DAUMIT, G., SPNSELLER, P. (2017 MARCH 20). EFFECTIVENESS OF THE RIGO CHÊNEAU VERSUS BOSTON-STYLE ORTHOSES FOR ADOLESCENT IDIOPATHIC SCOLIOSIS: A RETROSPECTIVE STUDY.
Rigo-Chêneau type brace was effective for the treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
MARUYAMA, T., YAMADA, H., NAKAO, Y. (2013 JULY 3). OUTCOME OF RIGO CHÊNEAU TYPE BRACE TREATMENT FOR ADOLESCENT IDIOPATHIC SCOLIOSIS – USING THE SCOLIOSIS RESEARCH SOCIETY BRACE STUDIES INCLUSION CRITERIA
The Chêneau-type brace according to Rigo principles and classification is a 3D corrective device able to provide excellent in-brace correction as well as radiological and cosmetic end results.
–RIGO, M., JELCIC, M. (2017 MARCH 16). BRACE TECHNOLOGY THEMATIC SERIES: THE 3D RIGO CHÊNEAU-TYPE BRACE.
The treatment of mild to moderate AIS with the RSC brace provides excellent clinical results. Its added benefit is enabling a three-dimensional correction of a three-dimensional deformity. Pre-treatment high Risser score, low Cobb angles, and low ATRs are associated with treatment success.
Schroth Physical Therapy
The Schroth method of physical therapy is a non-operative scoliosis treatment that compliments bracing for children or can be used to care for adults with scoliosis. Utilizing exercises that are tailored to a patient’s specific curvature, the practice focuses on de-rotation, elongation, and correction of the curve through breathing, the rebuilding of muscle symmetry, and posture awareness. Studies cited by the Scoliosis Research Society indicate some promising results of this type of Physiotherapy Scoliosis Specific Exercise. In addition, the National Center for Biotechnology Information as well as the Scoliosis Journal cite research indicating increased muscle endurance and positive effects on quality of life for patients using the Schroth Method. Therapists will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, develop a treatment plan, provide hands-on therapy, and create a home exercise program for patients. National Scoliosis Center collaborates with area Schroth physical therapists to provide this added non-operative treatment to our patients.
We have an EOS imaging system in both our Fairfax, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland offices—this Nobel Prize-winning technology is not limited to just our scoliosis patients, but available to anyone interested in low dose radiation digital X-rays. In fact, many orthopedists send non-scoliosis patients to our offices (patients who have other orthopedic conditions) because it offers a unique combination of low-dose and bi-planar X-ray capabilities. Learn more.
Support and Education
Being diagnosed with scoliosis is not easy—especially when a patient learns they need to wear a back brace. All kinds of thoughts, emotions, and challenges are felt by just about all of our patients. We are here to answer questions, provide suggestions, insights, and support/care for not only our patients but their families too. From fashion advice, books, and support groups (Curvy Girls). It is our goal to help our patients succeed at treatment and we fully understand that the emotional side of scoliosis is just as important as the physical side.
Billing and Insurance
Our first priority is to provide the highest level of care to our patients. In a time when insurance coverage is difficult to navigate, we have a dedicated Finance and Insurance Coordinator at each of our offices. These coordinators guide our families/patients through the health insurance process and obtain the highest level of benefits possible as it relates to care at the National Scoliosis Center.
We are an in-network participating provider with CareFirst/BlueCross BlueShield and all their BlueCard network affiliates. In addition, we frequently negotiate single case agreements for patients with other insurance carriers and anticipate adding in-network status with several others this year.