Being diagnosed with scoliosis during adolescence is very upsetting for kids and parents alike. Having to deal with any health condition during childhood or adolescence is difficult. For some, scoliosis is a very tough pill to swallow. It doesn’t help that many clinicians refer to scoliosis as a spinal “deformity” which can make some kids feel like they’re weird or different – despite the fact that scoliosis is a common condition. We really dislike the term ’spinal deformity,’ but unfortunately it’s an industry norm. Regardless of how the establishment refers to scoliosis, you gotta own it!
In addition to the diagnosis itself, being told that you have to wear a back brace or that you may have to get surgery only adds to the stress! The success of conservative scoliosis treatment hinges on several factors, some controllable and others not so much. Of the manageable factors, an immeasurable but important one is that kids must accept and “own” their scoliosis. Kids who have a positive attitude also usually have the easiest time complying with exercise and brace wear.
Sometimes, acceptance may mean tears, and even anger. And that is okay! Tears and anger may simply mean that your child is processing the reality of having scoliosis. By processing and releasing negative emotions, kids with scoliosis can move on to acceptance which can help increase the resolve needed to comply with treatment. We find that kids who realize and accept that there is work to be done are more often able to make a positive impact on their scoliosis.
Taking a proactive approach also helps kids avoid feeling like ‘a victim of scoliosis.’ To some small degree, we attribute the success that many of our patients achieve on the empowerment that comes with our approach. We go to extra lengths to educate kids to get them to comprehend “the big picture”. This includes the best techniques for active scoliosis management and getting kids to understand the nuances of their own unique spine.
Being diagnosed with scoliosis may be especially difficult for kids who have concerns about their appearance and/or fitting in with their peers. Although it’s easier said than done, we encourage kids to be open with their friends about having scoliosis, instead of trying to hide it. Recently, we treated a 10 year old girl from California whose parents brought her to our office to complete our intensive Schroth Best Practice® program and be fitted with the Cheneau-Gensingen Brace. When picking a design for her Gensingen Brace®, the girl chose the “light pink” pattern. Her reasoning? – “I want a light-colored brace so that all my friends can sign their name on it!” What an excellent idea and special way to “embrace the brace!”
Others have found different ways of accepting their scoliosis. One of our patients wrote her college essay about scoliosis. Another patient, a teenage girl from Florida has taken the initiative to make her own scoliosis website! On her site, “Scoliosis Siblings,” she offers brace fashion tips and features interviews with other girls who have scoliosis too. Talk about ‘owning it!’
It’s not an easy road for some kids, but we are here to help and offer a dose of reality coupled with sincere compassion and all the insights we’ve gained about scoliosis and its treatment since 2001. By helping your child find a way to accept their scoliosis, you will be taking strides toward leading them to a more successful outcome and a less painful scoliosis journey.