Stories about: Spinal Program

Helping your child manage scoliosis and brace-wearing

Managing scoliosis Thriving blog lead image

For children and adolescents who are prescribed a brace to help correct their idiopathic scoliosis, it can be a long road to straightening their curve. Bracing takes commitment and patience, but the end goal is to correct a patient’s curved spine and avoid surgical treatment.

Dr. Michael Glotzbecker, an orthopedic surgeon in the Spinal Program at Boston Children’s Hospital Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Center, and Deborah Cranford, a nurse at Boston Children’s who works closely with scoliosis patients, provide insights and tips on how parents can help their children better manage their scoliosis treatment.

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The five emotions of raising a child with infantile scoliosis

Avery, who has infantile scoliosis, with his brace

One night, while doing our son’s usual bath routine, I saw what looked like a hump on his back. Avery was 6 months old at the time. At first, I thought that it was just something I was imagining, but the hump never went away. In fact, it seemed to get worse. When Avery was 13 months old, he was officially diagnosed with infantile scoliosis, a rare form of scoliosis that occurs in children under 2 years of age.

The first hospital we were referred to would not even consider treating Avery until he was at least 18 months, and that was not a guarantee, so after doing some research, we came to Boston Children’s Hospital for a second opinion. We were referred to Dr. Michael Glotzbecker, one of the surgeons in the Spinal Program at Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center that specializes in early onset scoliosis.

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A bond between sisters made stronger by scoliosis

April and Mary Miller sit outside Boston Children's Hospital where they were treated for scoliosis.

Growing up, sisters will often share many things — and not always willingly. But it’s not often they will end up sharing the same condition, one that keeps them stuck in a rigid and uncomfortable back brace for most of the day. But then again, April and Mary Miller are not your average sisters.

The Miller sisters were both diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis at the end of their fifth grade years. April, the oldest sister, was diagnosed in 2011, while younger sister Mary’s diagnosis came in 2013.

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Catching up with Abby

scoliosisWhen you look Abby DiCocco, a 13-year-old from Clifton Park, N.Y, it’s hard to believe that the rising eighth grader, avid swimmer and budding triathlete ever had any problems with her spine.

Abby was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was in first grade and had surgery to remove a Chiari malformation, an abnormal meeting between the brain and spinal cord, at Boston Children’s Hospital.

One year after that surgery, Abby’s orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Emans, director of the Boston Children’s Spinal Program, prescribed a brace to treat her scoliosis. However, despite everyone’s best efforts, Abby’s scoliosis progressed as she grew, and her curve reached 65 degrees by age 11.

That’s when Emans suggested a new option — MAGEC surgery. Remote-controlled magnetic rods are surgically implanted into the spine and periodically lengthened to treat early-onset scoliosis. Abby was the first at Boston Children’s to receive this surgery, which reduced her curve from 65 to 10 degrees.

That was two years ago.

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