Discovering that your child has been living with an unusual physical condition like scoliosis can be very traumatic for parents. Family members ask themselves, “How did we not know?” “When did this start?” “What could we have done?” While there is a normal feeling of guilt and angst that comes with learning your child has scoliosis, it is important to focus on helping your child physically and emotionally to get through this difficult time.
Understanding Scoliosis The first thing you should do is learn about your child’s condition. There are a number of resources you can utilize to solidify your understanding of scoliosis. You can browse medical websites, talk to other parents or youths with scoliosis and most importantly, talk to your doctor to obtain credible information about scoliosis. It’s important to realize that scoliosis is not a disease or syndrome – it is a condition. It is a curvature of the spine that becomes evident in adolescents during their growth spurt.
The severity of the curve varies greatly by individual case. This severity is what determines the physical risks your child may have. It is crucial that a medical professional diagnose your child’s severity based on x-rays and monitor its progress. It is important that you as a parent to be involved with your child’s care and medical attention. Ask questions and educate yourself so that you can offer real support to your child.
Emotionally Supporting your Child Scoliosis can be incredibly hard on your child. This condition occurs normally during puberty, an already confusing and trying time for a child. He or she will need positive support and encouragement as they try to understand this condition they’ve been burdened with. If you approach this condition with an optimistic and prepared attitude, your child will too. Your child may mask feelings of fear, anxiety or anger with unusual outbursts, isolation, moodiness or passiveness. You will need to be ready to offer a shoulder as your child learns to understand and accept their condition.
Proactively Seeking Treatment The majority of scoliosis cases do not require surgery. Surgery is required when the curvature is very extreme and is putting other organs, like the lungs or heart, at risk. Most likely, if your child is still growing, your doctor may recommend wearing a brace. While wearing a brace will not cure or reverse the condition of your child’s scoliosis, it may prevent worsening of the curve. A brace should be worn as many hours a day as possible.
Most likely, your doctor will recommend a thoracolumbosacral orthosis, or TSLO brace. This is a tight fitting brace unnoticeable under clothes and goes under your arms and around the ribcage. In cases where your doctor believes a TSLO brace would not be enough, he may recommend a CTO brace or Milwaukee brace. This type of brace is a full-torso brace and has rests for the chin and neck.
Regardless of the treatment your child needs, the support and love you show your child are invaluable. This type of condition is difficult for both the patient and his/her loved ones, but it is important to keep the focus on the child as they struggle to fight scoliosis.