An Orthotist’s Guide to Recovery After Scoliosis Surgery

An Orthotist’s Guide to Recovery After Scoliosis Surgery

Although bracing is the first line of defense for halting spine curvature progression, it doesn’t always prevent the need for surgery. Even if initial bracing did not have conclusive effect, custom back braces drastically facilitate recovery after having scoliosis surgery.

To prevent your child’s scoliosis from progressing, you likely tried all of the bracing options designed to prevent curvature changes. If the bracing did not prevent the curve from progressing past 40 degrees, your child may have ended up in the operating room for a spinal correction surgery. Despite the inability of the bracing to prevent progression in the early stages of the disease, orthotists recommend using custom back braces to help your child recover from surgery. Encouraging your child to wear the post scoliosis surgery brace during recovery can have a profound impact on the effectiveness of the surgical procedure.

Types of Post-Surgical Spinal Orthoses

The severity of your child’s scoliosis and overall position of the spine directly influences the type of brace recommended after surgery. Orthotists generally use three types of custom braces to facilitate recovery: the Boston Overlap, a Thoracolumbar Sacral Orthosis (TLSO), and corset braces.

Both the Boston and TLSO braces are types of form-fitting, rigid plastic braces that are custom-built to limit movement of the spine while healing. During a spinal fusion surgery, a series of bone grafts are used to fuse curved vertebrae together and supported by metal rods. Rigid bracing limits motion in the spine to avoid interrupting the healing process.

Corset braces also limit movement while providing pressure that relieves pain and offers support throughout the day. Made of plastic backing with an elastic cotton corset, this type of brace will remind your child to practice good posture and avoid bending forward during their recovery period.

Depending on the goals and success of your child’s back surgery, their surgeon will prescribe a post scoliosis surgery brace as needed for recovery. If a brace is prescribed, you should visit an orthotist within the first week after surgery. During this consultation, the orthotist will review your child’s past and current spinal condition to identify the back brace that offers the most benefits during recovery.

Benefits of Bracing after Scoliosis Surgery

The main goal of scoliosis surgery is to bring spinal curvature below 25 degrees to restore posture, eliminate pain, and resolve breathing difficulties. The success of a spinal fusion surgery depends on the bone graft materials forming a solid connection with the vertebrae. Braces that stabilize the spine help prevent rejection or slippage of the bone graft materials. Custom orthotic bracing can also prevent your child from performing disruptive movements, such as bending and twisting, that can cause pain and discomfort.

Recovering from Scoliosis Surgery

In most cases, children need to wear their post-surgical brace for six to twelve weeks after surgery. After most of the swelling reduces approximately three weeks after surgery, your child will need to be re-fitted with a brace molded to their new back for the rest of their recovery.

Along with follow-up appointments with your child’s surgeon and orthopedic doctor, the orthotist will also continually assess your child’s progress in the weeks following surgery. Once the bone materials start to fuse together and weld the vertebrae in place, your child may consider leaving the brace behind. Some, however, feel more comfortable using their braces until they are fully healed.

If your child requires surgical correction for their scoliosis, consider speaking to your surgeon about bracing to ensure the surgery is successful. If you would like your child to utilize a post scoliosis surgery brace, contact Horton’s Orthotics and Prosthetics to discuss your child’s spinal condition and recovery needs at 501-683-8889.

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