A new retrospective study from France offers encouraging news for adults with scoliosis. This important article highlights a conservative treatment option that is rarely considered/used in the US – adult scoliosis bracing. The study tested the effectiveness of underarm bracing for adults in slowing curve progression non-surgically. Underarm bracing is an outdated term used to differentiate TLSO and LSO braces from the Milwaukee brace (a CTLSO which is no longer widely used).
This study found that underarm bracing may slow the rate of scoliosis progression in adulthood. The cohort included 38 adults with degenerative scoliosis and idiopathic scoliosis. The participants were all followed for a minimum of ten years prior to bracing and at least five years after bracing. All were fit with a custom-molded orthosis. The study found that the average progression rate prior to bracing was 1.28° per year, which reduced to 0.21° per year after bracing (p<0.0001). This study is encouraging for adults with scoliosis seeking new ways to manage the condition.
It is worth noting that, at the time of bracing, the mean age was 61.3 ± 8.2 years and the mean Cobb angle was 49.6 ± 17.7 degrees. Most doctors in the US do not brace severe scoliosis curves, nor do they brace adults with scoliosis. This leaves patients who do not want scoliosis surgery with few options. As advocates of the the German model of scoliosis management, we use Schroth Best Practice® and Chêneau scoliosis bracing for adults. For adults, the Gensingen Brace® (GBW) helps improve spinal stabilization, and offers the potential for postural improvement and pain reduction. A case study on adult bracing with the Gensingen Brace® is forthcoming and we will keep you posted.
Like the brace mentioned in the French study, the Gensingen brace® is a custom-molded TLSO or LSO (depending on individual curve pattern). A Schroth brace, it is available at Scoliosis 3DC with only a 3-4 day turnaround. If you are an adult who suffers from pain as a result of scoliosis and/or spinal collapse, you may be a candidate for the Gensingen Brace®. We have braced adults who never had surgery, and others who have had fusion surgery. Many adults are happy with their results and tell us that bracing for scoliosis has improved their quality of life and provided peace of mind.