by Dr. Mandy Jo Dietz
Traditional scoliosis care consists mostly of a ‘wait and see’ approach when it comes to children with spinal curvatures. Unfortunately, highly progressive curves may be missed during peak ages when correction is most attainable. Even the most aggressive management sends adolescents and parents home without tools to manage their spinal curvatures proactively. At best they’re fitted with a stabilizing brace that is minimally effective at preventing progression and ineffective at correcting scoliosis.
Two years ago we set out to find the most effective scoliosis care after finding our two year old daughter was struggling with a congenital scoliosis of over 30 degrees. We were told to ‘wait and see,’ with nothing more than yearly checks and the option of surgery once it progressed to 4o degrees or more. As a mother and healthcare provider, this option was not good enough. It is typical for curves to progress as children grow and simply waiting could result in spinal surgery later in life.
We traveled across the United States consulting with medical doctors, chiropractors, surgeons, orthopedic doctors and multiple disciplinary health professionals. Over the past two years, I’ve become certified in the most effective scoliosis treatments, combined it with the most effective disciplines and integrated them into my chiropractic clinic to provide others with the best protocols for prevention and correction of scoliosis. An integral part was finding a brace that was clinically shown to correct spinal curvatures rather than simply stabilize current curves as traditional bracing does.
Early last year, our clinic was one of the first clinics in the United States to become a certified Scolibrace™ clinic. ScoliBrace is a unique scoliosis bracing method that uses the best corrective principles from other current bracing methods. Using 3D imaging software, scans of the patient are taken and the brace is customized to fit their unique measurements and needs. The Scolibrace system evaluates patients using a three dimensional, digital body scanner, completing the evaluation in a matter of minutes without the use of casting. Combined with up to date digital full spine x-rays, specific posture images and measurements, the brace is designed using Computer Aided Design software and custom made for each individual. Because Scolibrace is a 3D corrective brace that uses body positioning rather than 3-point pressure, it holds patients in an over corrective position that works to actually straighten the curvature and retrain muscles. This results in better postural improvements and a reduction in muscle atrophy compared to traditional Boston braces.
We’ve had the opportunity to help several families, but the most dedicated has been Ashley. I met Ashley last year through another chiropractic clinic as she was being referred to Minnesota to yet another scoliosis doctor. Her initial x-ray showed a 33 degree primary thoracic scoliosis and compensatory lumbar scoliosis at eleven years old. She was in a Boston brace from November 2013 to December 2014, prescribed by an orthopedic doctor managing her scoliosis. In a period of a year, she wore her Boston brace, had a handful of visits, and was sent on her way until her next checkup without any other instruction. Her Boston brace stabilized her in the exact 33 degree curve for a year, with zero correction, shown on December 2014 x-rays. It was apparent that her Boston brace was not making correction to her scoliosis as it is a stabilizing brace rather than a corrective brace. After careful review, we determined that Scolibrace could make a better correction to her scoliosis.
Ashley’s Scolibrace corrected her thoracic curve to 20 degrees, 13 degrees better than her Boston Brace! Combining this more effective bracing along with specific mirror image chiropractic adjustments, specific traction protocols, core exercises and mirror image exercises in corrected postures, we’ve been able to reduce Ashley’s out of brace thoracic curvature from 33 degrees to 25 degrees in six months. Over the last six months, she has been under consistent chiropractic care, diligent with her at home strengthening and corrective exercises as well as her corrective traction, all of which have resulted in an 8 degree correction of her thoracic scoliosis in a short period of time.
By ensuring proper function of the nervous system and movement of the spine through specific chiropractic adjustments, teaching patients specific traction protocols, corrective core and mirror image exercises, and using a more effective bracing technology, we’ve been able to provide leading scoliosis care protocols to families. This provides them with the knowledge and power to make more informed decisions regarding their scoliosis care as well as hope that there is an opportunity to get better results.
As a parent of a young child facing the possibility of a spinal surgery, I realized that the resources for scoliosis care is very limited in North Dakota and surrounding areas. I’ve dedicated the last two years compiling the most researched, updated and effective protocols and brought them to families just like ours right here at home. Our vision is to provide the necessary resources to these families before surgical and bracing intervention is necessary, which is why I urge families with any scoliosis diagnosis to utilize the resources we can provide.
*Some Scolibrace information from scolibrace.com
Dr. Mandy Jo Dietz is a chiropractor with Life Expressions Family Chiropractic