Scoliosis Brace for Adults
We’re a bit obsessed with helping people halt scoliosis progression and improve their lives with non-surgical scoliosis treatments. I hesitate to write about our family’s own scoliosis experiences again, but our personal journey has led us to where we are today. Now, we are taking another interesting step by introducing the Cheneau-Gensingen scoliosis brace for adults.
Scoliosis is for life. Parents and kids are often focused on the short term check-ins until skeletal maturity, but the reality is that scoliosis doesn’t disappear once skeletal maturity arrives. Scoliosis requires effective management and adaptations for life–even for those who might have already undergone surgery. Naturally, all parents want to make the best decisions regarding the management of a child’s scoliosis – whether that child is a juvenile, adolescent, or even an adult. Your kid is your kid and no matter how old they are, everything about their well-being matters.
Our family’s strategy regarding scoliosis was to defy the recommendations of orthopedic medical professionals and veer off on our own. Many of you know the story that resulted in us embracing the newest Schroth-based conservative techniques and introducing them here in the U.S. So far, our course of action has worked well for our daughter, and for many others. However, the facts about scoliosis progression are always staring us in the face. Not all with scoliosis will progress after skeletal maturity, but some do. The natural history documentation states that a curve won’t progress in adulthood if you can hold the scoliosis curve to 30° or below.
What about curves greater than 30º, or even the 50º-70º curves? It is difficult to say which curves will and will not progress. Besides postural asymmetries, the fear of progression is probably the biggest selling point for scoliosis surgery for curves of 50º and above. According to the research, some of it dating back to the 70s, it is safe to assume that none of the subjects in the studies learned the Schroth Method since those studies all took place in the U.S. For me, it is comforting to know that since those who learn Schroth skills – especially the Best Practice ADLs and 3D Made Easy exercises – have weapons to fight scoliosis that others in our country have never had before.
After reflecting and witnessing the impressive results from adolescents who have been fitted with the Cheneau-Gensingen at Scoliosis3DC, I started wondering about using the same scoliosis brace for adults and had a Eureka moment! So, I immediately started nagging Marc (I’m good at that!) about fitting our daughter with the Cheneau-Gensingen brace too. Fortunately, it didn’t take much to get him on board. Our decision came about for one simple reason: the corrective de-rotational breathing that occurs in the Cheneau-Gensingen.
Admittedly, there is little research on bracing for adults with scoliosis. Bracing is usually only used for those with pain or spinal collapse and our daughter has neither. However, why not see what this brace can do in an informal and experimental way to help those who wear it, no matter what age, to avoid progression. This is not a compression brace, but a corrective breathing brace - it’s a de-rotational tool. We approached our daughter and she didn’t hesitate for a second. Her perpetual willingness to be a test subject for conservative treatment is really heartwarming. We didn’t take asking her lightly either because wearing a brace is not an easy task, no matter what age you are. She knows we wouldn’t ever ask unless we truly believed there would be some potential benefits.
With her approval, we fit her for a brace over the holidays. She is a young woman with a vibrant life who doesn’t normally experience pain or fatigue and she has not progressed a degree since her teen years. So, why would we ask her to consider wearing a brace? Well, just because a curvature is stable doesn’t mean a mother doesn’t worry. I read emails, regularly, from women in their fifties and sixties who describe progression in adulthood. While I realize these women never had Schroth Best Practice as their weapon, I believe in taking every opportunity to fight scoliosis progression and stabilize the spine. Utilizing a part-time scoliosis brace for adults is just another tool in scoliosis management.
We have no expectations that our busy, active, fun-loving daughter will wear her brace to work, or during play, but she is on board with wearing it during her few off hours each week and while sleeping. I find comfort in knowing that when she does manage to wear it, each breath will be a corrective breath and Schroth compatible principles will be employed. Schroth exercise and bracing are about de-rotating the spine, by breathing. If a person can use the brace while watching TV, or sleeping, and not have to think about what they are doing while doing something beneficial, then it is worth a try. Put it this way, if I could exercise in my sleep and burn calories but not have to realize that I am exerting effort for an activity I’m not enamored with, sign me up!
The experience of the fitting was bittersweet for Marc. When he finished fitting her, she fastened her new brace, glanced at the mirror and turned and said, “I really wish I had this in middle school. It would have been so easy to just throw a big sweatshirt over it. This is so much better than what I had.” Her words were heartbreaking because if she had this brace, back in 2001, I am confident her Cobb angles at skeletal maturity could have been vastly improved, even more than they were with Schroth exercise alone. That being said, the past is the past, and we are optimistic about this endeavor because the visual improvement to her spine in her new brace is impressive, even if it is way after the time for bracing to occur. Like with adolescents, the Cheneau-Gensingen scoliosis brace for adults often induces a noticeable postural improvement due to its asymmetric design. The ‘shift’ caused by the brace provides spinal support and can help a patient feel more upright when sitting and standing.
Ironically, as I write this, it has been fourteen years, to the day, that Marc discovered her scoliosis. Although our daughter is grown, we continue to raise awareness for others using Schroth Best Practice based therapies. Scoliosis management in the U.S. has come a long way since 2001 – there was no Schroth in the U.S. back then. However, more awareness and support is still needed so that parents today know there are proactive options that are efficient and effective!