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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Soft braces in the treatment of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) – Review of the literature and description of a new approach

Hans-Rudolf Weiss1* and Mario Werkmann2

Author Affiliations

1 Orthopedic Rehabilitation Services, Alzeyerstr. 23, Gensingen, D-55457, Germany

2 Orthomed Scolicare, Orthopedic Technical Services, Alzeyerstr. 23, Gensingen, D-55457, Germany

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Scoliosis 2012, 7:11  doi:10.1186/1748-7161-7-11

Published: 28 May 2012

Abstract

Background

The use of soft braces to treat scoliosis has been described by Fischer as early as 1876. With the help of elastic straps, as the authors suggested, a corrective movement for individual curve patterns should be maintained in order to inhibit curve progression. Today this concept has been revived besides soft 3 point pressure systems. Some shortcomings have been revealed in literature in comparison with hard braces, however the concept of improving quality of life of a patient while under brace treatment should furtherly be considered as valuable. Purpose of this review is to gather the body of evidence existent for the use of soft braces and to present recent developments.

Method

A review of literature as available on Pub Med was performed using the key words ‘scoliosis’ and ‘soft brace’ at first. The search was expanded using ‘scoliosis’ and the known trademarks (1) ‘scoliosis’ and ‘SpineCor’, (2) ‘scoliosis’ and ‘TriaC’, (3) ‘scoliosis’ and ‘St. Etienne brace’, (4) ‘scoliosis’ and ‘Olympe’. The papers considered for inclusion were new technical descriptions, preliminary results, cohort studies and controlled studies.

Results

When searching for the terms ‘scoliosis’ and ‘SpineCor’: 20 papers have been found, most of them investigating a soft brace, for ‘scoliosis’ and ‘TriaC’: 7 papers displayed, for ‘scoliosis’ and ‘St. Etienne brace’: one paper displayed but not meeting the topic and for ‘scoliosis’ and ‘Olympe’: No paper displayed. Four papers found on the SpineCor™ were of prospective controlled or prospective randomized design. These papers partly presented contradictory results. Two papers were on soft Boston braces used in patients with neuromuscular scoliosis.

Discussion

There is a small but consistent body of evidence for the use of soft braces in the treatment of scoliosis. Contradictory results have been published for samples treated during the pubertal growth spurt. In a biomechanical analysis the reason for the lack of effectiveness during this period has been elaborated. Improved materials and the implementation of corrective movements respecting also the sagittal correction of the scoliotic spine will hopefully contribute to an improvement of the results achievable.

Conclusions

The treatment of scoliosis using soft braces is supported by some papers providing a small body of evidence. During the growth spurt the use of soft braces is discussed contradictory. There is insufficient evidence to draw definite conclusions about effectiveness and safety of the intervention.