I read a recently published article about the quality of life experienced by adolescents wearing scoliosis braces here: it used a standardised test to determine the psychological effects of wearing a brace for most of the day and night.
The results were interesting and unsurprising, as a majority of wearers (53.4%) reported negative effects on their quality of life. I am quite surprised that this figure is not higher: let’s face it, wearing a rigid brace for a couple of years isn’t going to be a pleasant experience in anybody’s book.
However, no mention was made of the type of brace used, nor whether there was a programme of therapy to run alongside the brace. Neither was there any indication of the outcome of the intervention, so whilst this study probably confirmed what most clinicians know already (i.e. braces aren’t much fun to wear) it would be really interesting to devise a similar study for the same cohort of clients about 1 year after they had stopped wearing their braces.
I have to say that most of my clients respond well to the RSC braces I provide: without doubt, they would prefer not to be wearing them, but they show remarkable maturity and staying power. Once the benefits have been explained to them, they take ownership of their treatment , and because we have been getting some pretty good results, they buy into the fact that they will be the beneficiaries of the treatment in the end. I can honestly say that none of my clients would have not gone through with the course of treatment once they had finished wearing them – this is as much a testament to these fantastic youngsters as it is to the bracing system.
Of course, the Schroth Therapy programme requires persistence and commitment, and this is where the family and therapist comes into play – support from your family, your therapist and us will help you keep focused and help you those days when you really don’t want the hassle of the programme. Of course there are going to be days when you will have a rebellion on your hands, but rest assured, this is quite normal. Ride the storm and stay calm – the sun will come out (if somewhat begrudgingly!) and a little bit of objectivity will reign.
I believe that whilst the study mentioned above is probably correct in terms of pure numbers, it doesn’t really tell the whole story. In my experience, the short term disadvantages and inconveniences are generally outweighed by the long-term benefits, which these young people recognise and appreciate. Teenagers often get a bad press, but I am constantly impressed by them (both within my clinical practice and in general).
I believe that if you asked all of my clients whether they felt that putting up with the brace was worth it, most would say ‘YES!”