Scoliosis is the medical term that describes the abnormal twisting and curvature of the spine. It occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. It affects around three to four children in very 1,000 in the UK and is most typically seen in children between the ages of 10 and 15. It is also more common amongst females than males.
In 8 out of 10 cases there is no known cause; this is known as idiopathic scoliosis. The majority of the rest of cases are caused by medical conditions: cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and Marfans syndrome.
Scoliosis may first be noticed by a change in the appearance of a child’s back. Visual symptoms can include:
- A visibly curved spine
- One shoulder higher than another
- A difference in leg length
- A prominent rib cage
- One shoulder or hip being more prominent than the other
To establish the severity of the condition we use a state-of-the-art DIERS spinal scanner which provides us with a fast, contactless and radiation-free measurement of the back’s surface and spine.
Mild cases may self- correct as a child grows, though we may also recommend wearing ‘dynamic’ lycra garments which are designed to apply a global compression to the area of the body over which it is worn. In moderate or severe cases, where the child is still growing, a brace may be recommended to prevent the spine from curving further as a child continues to grow. Traditionally we have made a bespoke spinal brace which is manufactured from a cast. In 2016 we have begun to use a simulated modelling system.
To optimise the effectiveness of the spinal braces we manufacture and fit, the London Orthotic Consultancy now uses BraceSim. This system is the result of five years of research and development by a team of specialists from CHU Saint-Justine, Boston Brace and Rodin SAS in collaboration with the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada. Clinical assessments of over 100 patients have proved the reliability of the simulation tool; it is now possible to predict the effectiveness of a brace before it is manufactured, giving the clinician the ability to fine tune individual measurements and see their impact on the spine’s curvature. This is a very exciting development which will optimise the treatment success of bracing.
The simulator is precise to 5 degrees for Cobb angles (the measurement of magnitude of spinal deformity). When the Cobb angle exceeds 10 degrees a patient is deemed to have scoliosis.
Surgery rather than treatment with a brace is indicated where the Cobb angle exceeds 45-50 degrees.
Cost of Treatment
The cost of non-surgical treatment using BraceSim is £2,500. This includes the initial consultation, fine tuning of the prescription for the brace using BraceSim and fitting of the brace.
Further Information & Support
The Scoliosis Association (UK) is a patient support organisation for people with scoliosis and their families.