Scoliosis Braces don’t work!…?

Well, I got your attention, now, didn’t I!  Anyone who has read my blog at all knows that I don’t buy into this statement, but this week I met someone over the phone who emphatically believes this.  I started calling “surgery references” this week – people who have walked the surgery path with their children and who don’t mind telling other parents about it.  Believe me, up to this point, I have felt like I’ve stepped over “to the dark side”, coming to terms with and accepting the fact that my daughter WILL need surgery in the next year.  I have come to peace with it, but there are still many parts of it that unnerve me.  Anyway, I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with one of the references, and she was a wonderful, delightful, very helpful Mom, who did a great job of laying out all the details of what I could expect with our upcoming surgery.  I was very grateful.  But, we have definitely walked different paths!  She emphatically said to me right in the beginning (because she didn’t know any of my background) that “Braces do not work. They just Don’t.”  I asked her how she came to this conclusion and she said, “Well, everything I read and everyone I talked to said they don’t work and I just wouldn’t DO that to my daughter.”  There was a small hint of defense in her voice – as if she may have encountered a few people who questioned her desire to not even try bracing.  I mean, I have operated all along with the feeling that I wouldn’t “do that” to my daughter either, but, in my case, “it” means surgery, not bracing.  Now I see I have no choice to do what I thought was unthinkable before.  But, I have NEVER regretted bracing my kids.  And, neither have my kids regretted being braced.  Bracing may not have “worked” with my daughter, but it depends on how you view “worked”.  First, we didn’t give bracing an adequate chance – we braced too late.  Secondly, it may be because of the brace that we can wait until she is almost full grown before surgery – a HUGE advantage, because it means a very small chance of MULTIPLE surgeries.  And, we will probaby brace after surgery, too, to keep her compensatory curves from getting worse.  I am fine with that (the long road to Fairfax, VA is becoming very familiar to me) and SHE is fine with that.  If we can keep surgical intervention to just her thoracic region, then, yes, bracing would still be a win.  Now, let’s look at my son – we braced him early.  We decided to push for it with our Doctor when he reached 25 degrees. We didn’t mess around.  We got him in the best brace possible, made by Luke at Orthotic Solutions in Fairfax, VA, and within a year, his curve was considered TSTM (Too small to measure).  We had him brace full time for a year – not because our Doctor suggested it, but because Luke did.  Now, he wears a brace only at night – again, at Luke’s suggestion.  Our Doctor was happy to support us, but we needed to lay out our desires and do the legwork.  Both of my kids are perfectly happy in their braces.  I don’t feel that I did anything mean to them by having them wear them.  They are made so well, that my kids are perfectly comfortable.  I cannot emphasize this enough!  Do I wish they didn’t have to wear them??  Of course!  I wish they were Scoliosis free!  But, then again, now my son nearly is…Could he have grown out of the curve anyway?  Maybe.  Could he still fight a larger curve later?  Of course, which is why we are still bracing at night.  But, let’s look at my two case studies:  with my daughter we did the “wait and see” and, when it was time to “see”,  it was officially too late to brace effectively and now she will face surgery.  With my son, we braced aggressively at 25 degrees and he is now TSTM.  Can I say with 100% certainty it was the brace?  Of course not.  However, whether it was or was not the reason, I will take his progress and thank the Lord for it! (and Luke, of course).

I did say briefly to the woman on the phone that we were living proof that the brace works.  She was mildly interested, but, in her case, it’s too late and not really applicable.  I just wish she might think of that next time a parent calls and she might say “well, I’ve only talked to ONE person it worked for”.  She did a wonderful job of being honest with me about the hardships of surgery (and, trust me, I shed some tears over it), but she also gave me hope.  I will write more about what we can expect in another post, but, for now, I felt it was more important to say once again – bracing CAN work…and, even if it doesn’t, there is still hope.

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