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Scoliosis Treatment: There is an Alternative to the Brace

Scoliosis has plagued many people throughout the centuries. Most common treatment were a body brace or surgery to fuse the spine into place.

What do you do when you start to experience problems with your balance, walking or back?

This could be the start of a condition called Scoliosis, which is basically an abnormal curvature of the spine. Scoliosis is an incredibly complex condition involving much more than the spinal column. Generally, we are born a form of it and can have genetics toward it getting worse. As we grow from infancy through toddler and then to child the body can correct itself; in some cases if the spine fails to correct itself that is when Scoliosis becomes a problem.

Throughout elementary school the nurse for it checks us when he or she does a quick touch down the back. For many of us, we may not even be aware of what is going on since the physical the nurse gives you goes by without a sound or comment. If treatment is not sought for scoliosis the condition could worsen especially after puberty.  

Chiropractors and orthopedist generally prescribe either bracing or surgery to treat the curving of the spine. Bracing which requires the patient to wear a barrel-like plastic brace up to 23-hours a day can be uncomfortable and can take up to 6 years to show any result. (CLEARTM Institute does not formally endorse any type of bracing.)

The brace has strategically placed pads, which push on the body constantly in an effort for force the spine back into shape. Surgery is the more drastic approach generally called Spinal Rod Fusion Scoliosis surgery, which leaves up to 40 percent of the patients who get it severely handicapped within 17 years.

In spinal fusion for scoliosis, rods, hooks, wires or screws are attached to the curved part of the backbone and the spine is straightened. Small pieces of bone are then put over the spine. The bone pieces will grow together with the spinal bone, fusing it into the proper position. Spinal fusion is major surgery that usually takes several hours to complete and takes many months for recovery.  

Even health professionals often underestimate the gravity and impact of Scoliosis. Much of the reason for this, no doubt, stems from the fact that, for the last 2,000 years, medicine has had very little in the way of actual hope and healing to offer scoliosis patients. 

Scoliosis may affect other body functions as it can put pressure on the many nerves that extend out of the spine. Symptoms can be related to dizziness, eating/digestion, headaches and touch. Not much attention has been devoted to it in the curriculum of medical and chiropractic colleges. A more holistic approach to treat scoliosis patients was introduced by the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute which involves treatments that make the body heal itself through the use of weights, traction, vibrating traction, wobbly seats, and an Arthrostimulator to stimulate the back muscles. This adjustment tool assists the doctor in adjusting and manipulating segments of your spine. It sends 12-14 thrusts per second when the trigger is help down helping to stimulate the spine and provide a better range of motion. 

The two treatments commonly called Traditional and Intensive. Traditional treatment requires up to a 1 ½ hour in-office routine and generally is three appointments per week for a period of six weeks, followed by two appointments per week for a period of 12 weeks, followed by re-evaluation and further recommendations.

The intensive treatment is reserved for those who are home bound and have a curvature of less than 30 degrees. They start with one week of intensive care treatment. If the patient curvature is more than 30 degrees then the patient gets two weeks of intensive care treatment. The use of a scoliosis traction chair for home use is at the discretion of the treating doctor.

The Clear™ approach shows results in as little as four months versus six years of bracing. Scoliosis correction is not age dependant and does not stop at maturity Right now there are only two Clear Institute-certified offices in the New York area, one is in Manhattan and the other one is on Long Island. The Long Island center is located at Buckley Family Practice, 755 Pulaski Road, Greenlawn and Dr. Diana D’Angelo is the Clear™ certified physician.

The center is run by Dr. Kelly Buckley Perro, who works with Dr. D’Angelo. The client base is mixed between men and women, young and old but mostly women. My daughter, Rachel is 12 and has been going to this office for treatment of her scoliosis and is excited that she is finally getting something progressive treatment towards lessening the curve in her back.

Her daily treatments last between 1 hour and 1½ hours depending on the availability of stations. The stations are Wobble (balancing on a special pillow); Head and Neck Traction; Spinal Core Stimulation, specific corrective adjustments, Spinal Weight Vibration on a vibrating platform, Walking with weights, and the “Scoliosis Chair”.

The chair is a patent pending treatment device developed by the Clear Institute. Home treatments are encouraged to be performed at home in addition to the office visits. Rachel was wearing the brace daily and had trouble keeping it on for more than a school day since it was very tight on her body and limited her mobility. It also made her feel uncomfortable around her peers. Since starting the Clear™ method at the Buckley practice her personality and general attitude have improved.

From East Meadow we to travel 50 miles round-trip 3 times a week for treatment. Dr. Diana closely monitors her progress throughout her treatments to make sure the equipment being used correctly. Rachel has also been advised of dietary restrictions she should follow to make sure her body is kept in a healthy state; this will help her treatment to best effect.

I was very surprised to see how busy the office is and never realized how widespread the condition could be. I am very supportive of my daughter’s concerns and goals to rid herself of scoliosis or at least lessen the effects on her body. In the past month she has grown three inches from a handful of treatments and is able to sit straight up. It is our hope that after the four months of treatment she will be healthier and lead a more productive life. Unfortunately, this condition may never correct itself 100 percent so periodic checkups will be necessary throughout her life.
For more information about the Clear Scoliosis treatments offered at the Buckley Family Chiropractic center you can call them at 631-754-4333 or check their website.

Sources: Clear Institute (http://clear-institute.org); WebMD (www.webmd.com); Buckley Family Chiropractic (http://buckleyfamilychiropractic.com),
Dr. Diana D'Angelo (drdiana@buckleyfamilychiropractic.com)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Moe January 17, 2012 at 02:03 PM
One word...proofread
Jennifer January 17, 2012 at 10:58 PM
The brace is not necessarily to "force the spine back into shape," but to keep the curve from worsening as a person grows. I wore a brace in middle school for a year and a half and my curve reduced by 13 degrees. I stopped wearing it when I stopped growing, my curve went up about 3 degrees and that was all. I am so thankful I wore the back brace and avoided surgery. Wearing it wasn't my favorite thing in the world, but I wore it under my clothing and my mobility was not affected. I took it off for gym class, dances and other exercise. It was a tough time but I know that some people end up needing surgery, and if wearing the brace prevented that, then there was no other option.
Lauren January 23, 2012 at 04:42 PM
It's nice to know that there are more options other than bracing and surgery. When my 20 year old (now) was diagnosed at 9 years old with scoliosis, the doctors said to wait and see if it gets worse. Well, it did. I wish I would have known that this type of treatment existed when she was first diagnosed. Maybe it wouldn't have gotten worse.
Melissa January 26, 2012 at 03:45 PM
The curve gets worse with growth. Just wear the darn brace for a year or two.
Susan February 18, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Are you a doctor? If not, you really have no business writing about such a serious medical topic. I don't care if it's a blog or not. This sounds like one giant commercial for that chiropractic center. And if you are a doctor, then please be so kind as to publish your credentials.
paul February 18, 2012 at 10:38 PM
To Melissa: You stated - The curve gets worse with growth. Just wear the darn brace for a year or two. I truly think that anyone with this condition needs to contact their primary care physician. Not to "Just wear the darn brace for a year or two".... I think someone who is wearing a brace may be offended the way you chose your words....
paul February 18, 2012 at 10:40 PM
To Lauren: You should always seek a second opinion from a doctor. Just because you read it on the patch it may not be the correct diagnosis or treatment for your child....
paul February 18, 2012 at 10:42 PM
To all: Just because you read it on the Patch it may not be the correct diagnosis or treatment for you. Please seek the advise of your doctor. Thank you...
Melissa February 20, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Paul, why are my comments offensive? The questionable article is offensive. I wore a brace for scolisis as a teen. I wore it and it prevented the curve from worsening and then I was done. I didn't play around with my spine by seeing a chiropractor, I didn't ignore the diagnosis and risk surgery. If you are wearing a specially made brace for scolisis, you have not only seen your primary care physician, but you have seen a specialist. I was not being insensitive, I am one of the people who had to wear a brace. When you have come through wearing the brace and you read an article in which someone is driving 50 miles multiple times a week to avoid the brace it seems like an even bigger hassle than 2 years of wearing the brace. Yes, it is a little uncomfortable but it doesn't affect your mobility that much. No teenager wants to wear a brace, but often it is worn under clothing. It was traumatic at the time, but I am thankful that I wore it and did not play around with my SPINE. It is the option that will likely prevent surgery--a surgery in which a rod is placed along your spine, after organs have been moved over, and then it is there forever. It is an invasive and serious surgery. My parents didn't want me to have to wear the brace, they felt bad for me, but they were the parents and they knew that this was something that had to be done, they didn't say "oh, you don't want to wear it? Then you don't have to, we'll go to this chiropractor instead and play around with this."
paul February 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
To Melissa: I love your story of where you were and the wonderful person you have become. A wiser mature young lady that has been through what most have not. Just was not sure that the words "Just wear the darn brace for a year or two." is good for everybody. I understand where you were coming from. One must always seek professional advice.
Allen Levy February 22, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Paul: I challenge you to prove me wrong. Call the center, I provided the phone number, and talk to the doctors at the center. My daughter went through hell wearing the brace. I spent two months researching and talking to the Clear Institute and the doctors. WHY WOULD I WASTE TIME WRITING ABOUT THIS. Get a life.
Allen Levy February 22, 2012 at 01:14 AM
To all the those who don't believe me. This might sound like an advertisement but what would you do if your child had to struggle and then you found a wonderful oasis on Long Island that you wanted everyone to know about?? Think about it. What do we do when we recommend places or stores or anything. Word of mouth is the best form advertisement. Life is just one BIG ad. We do it everyday all the time. If you don't like ads then turn off the TV, don't read the paper, don't go anywhere. These doctors need all the help they can get.
paul February 22, 2012 at 03:11 AM
To Allen: For you to get very defensive about my general statement and I will repeat it: "To all: Just because you read it on the Patch it may not be the correct diagnosis or treatment for you. Please seek the advise of your doctor. Thank you..." Where is that negative advise. Its being responsible. You would be remiss if you think someone would just do as you wrote, without conferring with their medical provider.... You also stated : "WHY WOULD I WASTE TIME WRITING ABOUT THIS. Get a life." Time for you to get a reality check about your irresponsible response to my comment.

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