In defense of adolescents: They really do use braces for the hours prescribed, if good help is provided. Results from a prospective everyday clinic cohort using thermobrace

Scoliosis. 2012 May 31;7(1):12. doi: 10.1186/1748-7161-7-12.


Background: The effectiveness of bracing relies on the quality of the brace, compliance of the patient, and some disease factors. Patients and parents tend to overestimate adherence, so an objective assessment of compliance has been developed through the use of heat sensors. In 2010 we started the everyday clinical use of a temperature sensor, and the aim of this study is to present our initial results.

Population: A prospective cohort of 68 scoliosis patients that finished at least 4 months of brace treatment on March 31, 2011: 48 at their first evaluation (79% females, age 14.2±2.4) and 20 already in treatment.

Treatment: Bracing (SPoRT concept); physiotherapic specific exercises (SEAS School); team approach according to the SOSORT Bracing Management Guidelines.Methods. A heat sensor, "Thermobrace" (TB), has been validated and applied to the brace. The real (measured by TB) and referred (reported by the patient) compliances were calculated.Statistics. The distribution was not normal, hence median and 95% interval confidence (IC95) and non-parametric tests had to be used.

Results: Average TB use: 5.5±1.5 months. Brace prescription was 23 hours/day (h/d) (IC95 18-23), with a referred compliance of 100% (IC95 70.7-100%) and a real one of 91.7% (IC95 56.6-101.7%), corresponding to 20 h/d (IC95 11-23). The more the brace was prescribed, the more compliant the patient was (94.8% in 23 h/d vs. 73.2% in 18 h/d, P < 0.05). Sixty percent of the patients had at least 90% compliance, and 45% remained within 1 hour of what had been prescribed. Non-wearing days were 0 (IC95 0-12.95), and involved 29% of patients.

Conclusion: This is the first study using a TB in a setting of respect for the SOSORT criteria for bracing, and it states that it is possible to achieve a very good compliance, even with a full time prescription, and better than what was previously reported (80% maximum). We hypothesize that the treating team (SOSORT criteria) plays a major role in our results. This study suggests that compliance is neither due to the type of treatment only nor to the patient alone. According to our experience, TB offers valuable insights and do not undermine the relationship with the patients.