New concerns about scoliosis brace treatment
Dr. Ian Stokes (Head of orthopedic research at the U. of Vermont, developer of the widely adopted "vicious cycle of scoliosis" model, and all around class act person) approached the podium at 8:50am on May 22nd at the 2010 SOSORT conference in Montreal and dropped an absolute bomb shell. The amazing thing is that I don't believe anyone else (other than perhaps me and a few "like minded" colleagues sitting around me) even heard it go off. I guess the difference between what one hears vs comprehends is largely due to pre-disposed perspective.
Excerpts from Dr. Ian Stokes 2010 SOSORT presentation on the effects of immobilization (AKA: scoliosis brace treatment) on spinal discs in scoliosis.
"Both vertebral and disc deformity contribute to the idiopathic scoliosis deformity, but the cobb angle measures both without distinguishing their relative magnitudes, which is approximately equal. (The disc deformity is greater in the lumbar region than in the thoracic) [Author's note: Doesn't that make them not equal and places greater emphasis on the disc deformity than the verterbal wedging?]. Most attention has been given to the vertebral deformity, which apparently develops because of growth disturbance, and some subsequent remodelling. [Author's note: vertebral deformity is a secondary result of asymmetrical loading as a result of the scoliosis spine, not a primary cause of the condition] Conversely, discs do not grow in height while adolescent deformity is progressing. It appears from a few studies that progression of scoliosis occurs initially in the discs and subsequently in the vertebrae. Nutritional compromise has been implicated premature disc degeneration on the concave (inside) side in scoliosis. Our rat tail model in which a curvature is imposed along with compression develops a 'structural' [Aka: permanent] disc deformity with tissue remodeling after 5 weeks, and we are studying the underlying mechanisms.
"The disc wedging structural changes in human scoliosis may result from reduced mobility" [Author's note: As seen and caused by scoliosis brace treatment]
"Disc deformity is a significant contributor to scoliosis, not specifically measured relative to vertebral deformity by cobb angle. Prevention of progressive disc deformity may require maintenance of mobility as well as reversal of loading asymmetry."
So there you have it. Scoliosis brace treatment causes permanent structural disc wedging deformity in as little as 5 weeks, which is a significant contributor to progression of idiopathic scoliosis. In other words, scoliosis brace treatment is making scoliosis patients worse and causing their scoliosis to become more progressive both in adolescents and adult patients.
It would seem the continued usage of scoliosis brace treatment needs to end immediately. It is clear that it does not alter the natural course of the condition, it impairs lung development, it does not have any effect on preventing the need for scoliosis surgery, and now we learn it permanently creates disc wedging that leads to increased risk of curve progression in adolescent and adult scoliosis patients.
More information on effects of scoliosis brace treatment on scoliosis can be found athttp://www.treatingscoliosis.com/moderate-severe/127.html