When treating a child or teen with a curvature of the spine, doctors will often recommend bracing as a way of halting the curve's progression.

Back braces come in a variety of forms, each designed to prevent/minimise curvature development while the patient grows. Here, we look at two of the most well-known brace types: the Milwaukee brace and the Boston brace.

Milwaukee brace for scoliosis

Milwaukee brace

The Milwaukee brace may be prescribed to individuals who possess high thoracic (upper back) curves. It has an unusual design that is intended to manipulate the patient's full upper body: the brace extends from the pelvis all the way up to the neck, and it's manufactured with a contoured plastic pelvic girdle and neck ring, connected by a metal bar in both the front and back of the brace.

These metal bars play an important role, helping the torso extend while the neck ring keeps the head in a central position over the pelvis. Pressure pads are strategically attached to the metal bars with straps in accordance with the shape of the patient's spinal curvature.

The Milwuakee brace (first developed in 1945 by Dr Albert Schmidt and Dr Walter Blount of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Milwaukee's Children's Hospital) is viewed by many as the first modern brace designed for the treatment of scoliosis. It has undergone a number of tweaks over the years, although the current design has been in use since 1975.

The Milwaukee brace is far less common now that form-fitting plastic braces are available. However, it is still prescribed for some scoliosis patients with curves located very high in the spine.

Boston brace for scoliosis

Boston brace

The Boston brace was first developed in the early 1970s by Mr William Miller and Dr John Hall of The Boston Children's Hospital. It is a a type of thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO), and it's one of the most commonly-used brace options when it comes to treating scoliosis.

TLSO braces are commonly referred to as 'underarm' or 'low-profile' braces. The Boston brace is much smaller and far less bulky than the Milwaukee brace, with plastic components custom-made to fit the patient's body exactly. The Boston brace covers most of the torso; at the front, it starts below the breast and extends all the way to the beginning of the pelvic area, while at the back, it starts below the shoulder blades all the way down to the tail bone of the spine.

This type of brace works by applying three-point pressure to the curve pattern in order to prevent further progression. This forces the lumbar areas to 'flex', pushing in the abdomen and flattening the posterior lumbar curve.

ScolioGold therapy and other treatments

If you've been diagnosed with scoliosis (or another curvature of the spine) and wear a back brace to help halt the progression of your curve, it is a good idea to undergo specialised physiotherapy as well. The sole purpose of a back brace is to stop the curve in your spine worsening during periods of growth; it does very little to assist in the building of the muscles needed for stability once the brace has been removed. To learn more about the specialised treatment courses for brace wearers that we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, please click here.

In some cases, the treatment courses that we deliver can eliminate the need to wear a brace altogether! Please use the links below to find out more and book your Scoliosis SOS consultation.

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Pia Before and After Scoliosis Treatment

In January 2019, Pia (47) and her daughter Lova (14) travelled to London from their home in Gothenburg, Sweden to undergo treatment here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. Read on to find out how we were able to help them alleviate their scoliosis problems!

Lova's Scoliosis

Lova was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2016. She was 12 years old at the time, and her Cobb angle measurement was 40 degrees. Lova's scoliosis appeared to be hereditary - her mother, aunt and great-grandma had all been diagnosed with the same condition previously.

Once diagnosed, Lova attended biannual check-ups with her school nurse. Though a candidate for surgery, Lova did not want to undergo an operation and decided to look at non-surgical options instead. She started wearing a Providence brace for a total of 8 hours a night to slow the progress of her spinal curve, but over the next 18 months, her Cobb angle worsened to 42 degrees, putting her on the borderline for surgical intervention. This came as a real blow to Lova, an avid horse rider and keen gymnast who was concerned that spinal surgery would limit her ability to continue these activities.

Pia's Scoliosis

Lova's mother Pia is a 47-year-old paediatric consultant and surgeon. Pia was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 12 (just like Lova), and before coming to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, she had been experiencing a lot of lower back pain as a result of the 33- and 28-degree curves in her thoracic and lumbar spine. This was especially problematic when Pia was carrying out long surgical procedures.

Pia wore a Boston brace for 3 and a half years between the ages of 12 and 16, and she tried several courses of physiotherapy treatment after that in an effort to alleviate the curve in her spine. But neither the brace nor the physiotherapy were ever of any long-term help, with only intermittent results achieved.

In the end, it was Anna Nordenstrom - one of our previous patients and a colleague of Pia's - who recommended the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in the hope that we would be able to help both Pia and her daughter.

How We Helped

Pia and Lova underwent 4 weeks of therapy with Scoliosis SOS, including group and one-to-one sessions comprising specific corrective exercises and pain relief measures targeted at each woman's specific condition.

Pia saw a 50% reduction in her cervical rotation and a 20% reduction in her thoracic rotation, along with decreased levels of pain. Lova experienced a 50% reduction in her cervical rotation and grew by 3cm!

During a check-up with her consultant in Sweden, Lova was told that the curvature in her spine now measured just 38 degrees and that she was no longer a candidate for surgery - great news!

Watch the video below for a full account of Lova and Pia's story.

If you have any questions about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and the treatment courses we provide, please contact us today!

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We got some great news over the weekend: the Scoliosis SOS Clinic's YouTube channel now has more than 500 subscribers. That's enough to fill a jumbo jet!

This is a great milestone, and now of course we're looking forward to hitting the 1,000-subscriber mark. If you'd like to be a part of our audience, click the link below and hit the 'SUBSCRIBE' button on our channel's homepage!

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To celebrate this achievement, here's a quick look back at some of our most popular YouTube videos to date...

 

Axel's Journey from Sweden for Scheuermann's Treatment

Axel, a software developer from Gothenburg, came to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic in 2016. Axel has Scheuermann's kyphosis, and his desk-based job was making this condition worse - watch this case study video to find out how we helped him!

 

6 Stretches to Try at Home

In this video, our ScolioGold therapists demonstrate a variety of beneficial scoliosis exercises that are simple enough to be performed in the comfort of your own home. (Please note that the information in this video should not be treated as medical advice, and these stretches may not be suitable/beneficial for everyone.)

 

Treating Veronica's 55-Degree Scoliosis

Veronica was 15 years old when she came to us for scoliosis treatment. Our ScolioGold treatment programme helped her to avoid undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

Be sure to visit our Patient Stories page for lots more videos from the Scoliosis SOS Clinic!

In November 2018, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic helped treat Matthew Ellison, a 31-year-old male from Devon who was diagnosed with hyperkyphosis and hyperlordosis following an injury. Here is his story!

Kyphosis and Lordosis Treatment

As Matthew explained to us, he had always noticed that his back had a rounded shape, particularly in the shoulder and thoracic region. During Matthew's early teenage years, his mother took him to the doctor to have his back looked at, and the doctor informed him that he would simply grow out of it.

As the years went by, however, Matthew saw that he hadn't grown out of it, and in his mid-to-late 20s he started to experience increased levels of discomfort and pain on a daily basis - and especially during sports participation. Things got worse for Matthew when he suffered an injury, which resulted in an X-ray scan and a recommendation for spinal fusion surgery. This was something that Matthew was not keen on at all and wanted to avoid, and so his doctor suggested that he could try a non-surgical treatment programme like the Schroth method. Matthew conducted some of his own research, and this eventually led him to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.

Before reaching out to us, however, Matthew attempted to self-medicate his back problem with regular physical exercise in an effort to 'open up' the curve in his spine and strengthen his upper back muscles. Unfortunately, due to the injury that he had suffered, these exercises ended up making his spine worse. Matthew then sought professional help and undertook a 12-week physiotherapy course in the hope of correcting his spinal curvature; during this time, he was given simple instructions which helped with pain relief at the end of each day, but weren't enough to reduce the curve.

Matthew comes to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic

Matthew found the Scoliosis SOS Clinic's website via Google and decided to get in touch. After a simple phone call that answered a lot of Matthew's questions, he decided to undertake a 4-week ScolioGold course with us to help alleviate the problems that he was experiencing. Matthew was sceptical at first regarding the efficacy of group-based therapy, but was very impressed with the level of attention he received during his one-on-one sessions. The treatment that we provided comprised massage for pain relief and specific exercises that targeted the affected area of Matthew's spine.

Upon the conclusion of his treatment course, Matthew's hyperkyphosis and hyperlordosis had returned to within normal range. Not only was he no longer in pain, he had actually grown 3.8cm taller!

Matthew recommends the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to anyone experiencing back problems like his. Watch the video below for a full account of Matthew's story and to see how the Scoliosis SOS team were able to help him.

If you have any questions about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, or if you would like to book an initial consultation with us, please get in touch today!

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Quality of life

Quality of life is defined as 'the general wellbeing of a person or society, defined in terms of health and happiness rather than wealth' (Collins English Dictionary). In this blog post, we will explore what quality of life means for a person with scoliosis, and we will look at the ways in which our ScolioGold treatment programme can help to improve quality of life for scoliosis patients.

What is life like for a person with scoliosis?

The symptoms of scoliosis - and their severity - vary greatly from one case to the next. Here are some of the ways in which this condition can affect an individual's quality of life:

  • Body Image - A curved spine can have a big impact on one's overall appearance: hips and shoulders may be uneven, ribs may protrude, and the patient might have an uneven gait while walking. As a result, some people with scoliosis end up feeling insecure about how they look. This reduced confidence can prevent them from doing things they would otherwise have liked to do, such as wearing a particular type of clothing or participating in certain activities. Low self-esteem is particularly common in young people with scoliosis.

  • Pain & Discomfort - Beyond the cosmetic effects of scoliosis, those with curved spines may also experience recurring back pain and reduced mobility/flexibility. This can prevent them from playing sports, carrying heavy weights, and in extreme cases, even carrying out everyday tasks like bathing and getting dressed.

However, many scoliosis patients are able to maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle in spite of their condition. Assisting with this is one of our key aims here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic - we want our patients to keep on enjoying their favourite activities and living the lives they choose for themselves!

Can ScolioGold treatment improve quality of life?

Our 4-week ScolioGold treatment courses are specifically designed to improve overall quality of life for scoliosis patients. Our ScolioGold programme combines a variety of exercises and methods that are tailored to each individual's specific condition to help them achieve the results they want.

While undergoing treatment with us, patients learn and practise exercises that improve their mobility, reduce their spinal curvature and relieve their back pain. This often has the knock-on effect of improving their self-confidence and body image.

ScolioGold Quality of Life Treatment

Putting our treatment to the test

In 2016, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic conducted a study to test the effectiveness of ScolioGold therapy on patients' quality of life. 161 patients took part in this study (97% provided pre-treatment data; 68% provided pre- and post-treatment data).

The patients were asked to fill out an SRS-30 and an EQ5D5L questionnaire. These measure quality of life on factors such as:

  • Mobility
  • Self-care
  • Usual activities
  • Pain
  • Anxiety and depression

The results of this study demonstrated that the ScolioGold method was associated with a significant improvement in factors measured across both the SRS-30 and EQ5D5L questionnaires. Click the button below to view the results in full.

View the full research report >

If you'd like to find out more about our ScolioGold treatment programme, or if you'd like to book a consultation, please get in touch with us today.