Advances in scoliosis care help children and adults

June is Scoliosis Awareness Month

Scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine, affects an estimated 7 million people in the United States, according to the National Scoliosis Foundation. Scoliosis may occur in children who have congenital or neuromuscular disorders but most often occurs in healthy children with no known cause. While most cases of scoliosis are diagnosed between age 10 and 15, the condition also affects adults.

Ideally, significant scoliosis is prevented or treated in childhood. If left untreated, scoliosis at times can be a source of pain and disability in adults. Norton Leatherman Spine surgeons are leading experts in the treatment of complex scoliosis. Over the past several years, the center has been part of a renewed national effort to improve scoliosis treatment in children and teens.

Norton Leatherman Spine

Norton Leatherman Spine has a more than 50-year history as a leader in scoliosis care for children and adults.

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Because of the importance of early treatment, the National Institutes of Health funded the “Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Trial” (BrAIST) study published in 2013. The study has better defined which patients are most likely to benefit from brace treatment to avoid surgery.

In an ongoing study, Norton Leatherman Spine is one of only a few centers around the country using scoliosis-specific exercise (SSE) treatment. SSE is used most often with children. Evidence shows SSE can decrease curve progression and possibly the need for surgery in some children. It also is used with adults, but the benefits are less proven. Norton Leatherman Spine has SSE therapists with extensive training.

For patients who need surgery, Norton Leatherman Spine has been a pioneering center for many years. Recently, surgical navigation and robotic technologies, including the Mazor X robotic surgical system, have been used. These technologies can help reduce pain and make recovery time shorter following spine surgery in children and adults. The Mazor X system uses enhanced imaging software and GPS capabilities to help surgeons map out a plan before surgery, which contribute to both goals.

Advances in specialized surgical techniques have made it possible to restore standing balance and function in some severely disabled patients. This has led patients from throughout the region and beyond to seek care at Norton Leatherman Spine.

Steven D. Glassman, M.D., is an orthopedic spine surgeon and medical director with Norton Leatherman Spine.

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