Aim: Bracing is considered to be effective in the treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. The concept prevailing today includes an asymmetrical construction, mainly using a mechanical three-point system. We developed the new Sforzesco brace, based on the SPoRT concept (Symmetric, Patient-oriented, Rigid, Three-dimensional, active). The aim of this study is to verify the results of this concept and brace, compared to three-point classical systems.
Methods: We performed a prospective, pair-controlled study. It was possible to match 15 patients, out of the first 18 consecutively treated with the Sforzesco brace (Group SPoRT), with previous patients treated with the Lyon brace (Group LY). SPoRT included 14.2+/-1.7 year old patients, with 47+/-7 degrees Cobb worst curves, and 11+/-4 degrees Bunnell; LY included 13.6+/-1.6 year old patients, with 43+/-7 degrees Cobb and 12+/-5 degrees Bunnell. The brace had to be worn 23 h per day and patients were evaluated after 6 months both clinically and radiographically (without the brace). Appropriate statistics were used.
Results: At the baseline there were slight differences between the groups, with SPoRT worse than LY. All radiographic and clinical parameters decreased significantly with treatment in both groups, apart from thoracic Cobb degrees in LY. SPoRT had better results than LY (P<0.05) radiographically (worst curve -10+/-5 degrees vs -5+/-7 degrees, all curves -8+/-7 degrees vs -6+/-7 degrees), for sagittal profile (distance from plumbline: T12 -6+/-9 mm vs +2+/-8 and L3 -7+/-12 vs 0+/-10) and aesthetics of the shoulders (9 improved and 6 unchanged vs 5 and 8) and waists (10 improved and 5 unchanged vs 5 and 8). Finally, clinical results in terms of patient recovery were better in SPoRT than LY (12 improved and 3 unchanged vs 8 and 5).
Conclusion: When a new treatment is introduced, it is not possible to wait years (end of therapy) before verifying its utility, and in scoliosis bracing a short term study already gives very important clues. This study confirms the immediate efficacy of brace treatment (even in such high degree cases) whatever the brace concept used, with only 2 (out of 30) progressed curves. In SPoRT we had no progressions, and obtained a statistically significant 80% better radiographic results than LY in the worst scoliosis curve, and 40% in the average of all curves, as well as improved aesthetics and sagittal profile (that is crucial in scoliosis bracing). The Sforzesco brace should be used, and the SPoRT concept explored in the long term to verify if the classical three-point system should be totally (or partially) abandoned.