Last week the News & Observer published a syndicated story about a study reviewing the effectiveness of back braces for treating scoliosis. WakeMed features one of the most integrated scoliosis surgery programs in the state if not the country, where patients have access to a rehab program, pre and post op education and a spinal support group called Back Talk.
Regarding the Dec. 8 Life, etc. section article on teen back braces, as a pediatric orthopedist specializing in scoliosis and other spinal conditions, I have seen patients who had spectacular results with braces. The challenge is to find which patients will respond best to this or any other treatment.
The St. Louis study noted in the article may be very useful but will take many years to collect data, and may ultimately not be able to answer the question completely. In the meantime, the scoliosis brace is one of our best tools in managing a significant health problem in teenagers.
Contrary to the article, the braces (as well as surgical options) are not the same as used over five decades. In my practice I have had success with a bending brace which is worn for about 10 hours overnight. This brace is much better accepted by the kids and has much better compliance, with a similar effectiveness to the 20-hour-a-day brace described in the article.
Keith P. Mankin, M.D.
Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic