Scottish Rite for Children offers premier scoliosis treatment for pediatric patients

As a member of the McKinney North High School fanfare drum line, Luke carries a lot of weight on his shoulders – both physically and figuratively.

Weighing in at over 20 pounds, Luke’s bass drum has been both a positive outlet and a challenge for the teen with scoliosis.

At the age of 9, Luke was diagnosed with scoliosis when his pediatrician discovered his uneven shoulders and a curvature in his spine. He is one of an estimated 9 million school-age youth in the US affected by the condition that causes the spine to rotate into a “C” or “S” shape.

He was referred to Scottish Rite for Children, a world-renowned pediatric orthopedic institution that has been healing muscles, joints and bones for 100 years.

Improve knowledge through research

At Scottish Rite, researchers from the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Center for Musculoskeletal Research are working hard to study the causes of scoliosis. In this facility, researchers at the Scottish Rite even discovered the first gene associated with the condition, and where they continue to make groundbreaking discoveries.

“What’s exciting is that pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together,” says Carol Wise, Ph.D., director of basic research and molecular genetics at Scottish Rite. “Our genetic research is looking at the root causes of this condition that will inform the development of less invasive therapies and prevention.”

Children like Neema from Sachse, Texas receive innovative scoliosis treatment and care from Scottish Rite. (Thanks to Scottish Rite for Children)

Specially made for growing children

At Scottish Rite, every detail of medical care has been designed with the well-being of each patient in mind. A team of experts – orthopedists, nurses, surgeons, doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists and more – are on hand to provide comprehensive treatment.

Both the cause and symptoms of scoliosis vary from child to child, and some patients with more extreme cases may require a variety of treatments, including bracing and surgery.

“Currently, the brace is the only treatment scientifically proven to prevent the progression of scoliosis to a surgical extent,” says Amy L. McIntosh, MD, Luke’s pediatric orthopedic surgeon and medical director of clinical safety at Scottish Rite.

“The coolest thing about our brace program is that the orthopedic instrument makers work at Scottish Rite and they make all braces in-house,” added McIntosh. Because patients’ bodies are still developing, medical care can take years of doctor’s visits, specialized equipment, and even surgery. This level of individualization can be critical for children like Luke with orthopedic conditions. In many cases, braces can cost thousands of dollars and need to be constantly replaced every year as children grow. That’s why Scottish Rite offers custom braces for kids – regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

At Scottish Rite, researchers from the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Center for Musculoskeletal Research are working hard to study the causes of scoliosis. (Thanks to Scottish Rite for Children)

The team is also developing innovations that improve the quality of life for patients who are prescribed custom braces, such as the Brace Rite app. A quarter-sized Bluetooth temperature sensor is placed in each scoliosis brace. The sensor is connected to the app, so it registers how often and for how long a patient wears the brace. Along with their suppliers’ advice, researchers found that using the app increased the time patients spent wearing a brace and showed positive outcomes after brace treatments.

“Giving patients and their families the ability to see their level of wear and tear in real time allows them to be an active participant in their own treatment,” said Don Virostek, CPO, LP.O., director of orthotics at Scottish Rite. “If we can get them to wear their braces, hopefully we can prevent more of those kids from having surgery for their scoliosis.”

Changing the trajectory for a boundless youth

Luke wore his brace for up to 22 hours a day, but his curve continued to progress – it exceeded 50 degrees, causing discomfort and difficulty breathing.

“When it was really bad, like after band rehearsals [or] after walking my drum there for a while, it just hurt, ”says Luke. “I did my best when I could, but sometimes I just had to sit outside and stretch.”

After Luke’s surgical correction for scoliosis, he has grown several inches in height and has no more pain in his back. (Thanks to Scottish Rite for Children)

Ultimately, surgical correction was recommended, and Luke underwent posterior spinal fusion with instrumentation and bone grafting.

Dr. McIntosh and the multidisciplinary care team worked with Luke to prepare him before surgery.

“She gave me a 3D model of what the surgery would look like on my back,” says Luke. “I had to play with it and bend it to see the difference between a normal back and spinal fusion back. It made me feel better. “

After recovering from surgery, Luke has grown several inches in height and has no pain in his back as he zigzags and zigzags across the football pitch with his massive bass drum. He plans to continue studying music in college.

“You are in the best of hands [at Scottish Rite]Luke says. “They know exactly what to do.”

Learn more about how Scottish Rite has dedicated the past 100 years to improving the care of children worldwide.

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