Sarah was diagnosed with scoliosis at 5 ½ years old. At her 5-year-old check-up in April 2003, she had a routine screening for scoliosis but no curve was detected. Six months later, after noticing during the summer, particularly inher bathing suit, that Sarah just did not look straight, we decided to have her checked again. An X-ray showed that she had a 37-degree left-facing curve from her lower thoracic (T-7) to her upper lumbar (L1) vertebrae.
Medical issues for Sarah were not new to us. At 6 months of age, Sarah had surgery to remove a tumor from her abdomen, after which she had a lot of feeding/vomiting issues for several years, being hospitalized for dehydration on several occasions.
At the time of the scoliosis diagnosis, we were faced with a daunting future for her. We were initially told that since she was so young, and had a lot of growing left to do, she would most likely end up with surgery to fuse her spine. We were told that orthotic braces to treat scoliosis would only stabilize the curve she already had in an attempt to prevent it from getting worse; they were not designed to correct the curve.
Dr. Gomez's approach was quite different. Rather than just creating a force directly on the original curve, he looked at her entire spine in all threedimensions. He explained that in order to create a straight spine that was actually stable, one had to apply the proper force in all three dimensions.
However, we were also told at that time that there was no way of predicting how she would respond in a brace. Her curve had progressed rapidly (undetectable to 37-degrees in six months) and was classified as neither infantile-scoliosis nor adolescent scoliosis; and, while several theories were given, there really was no consensus as to the cause. Fortunately, an MRI ruled out more serious issues, although there was the possibility of a tethered spinal cord. We are currently using the somatosensory electrode potential (SSEP) results to monitor this, but feel confident at this point that she does not have a tethered cord.
The spine had to be straightened from the base upward. He explained that the issue was similar to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You can make that tower as straight as possible, but it is still going to lean unless you look at it from all dimensions; the X, Y, and Z axes.
Sarah has been under Dr. Gomez's care since October of 2003. Since then she has had several different braces, all addressing different issues and applying different forces in different areas as she has grown and changed.
Currently, both curves in her spine, as measured by X-ray are so negligible, the Orthopedist does not even assign a number to them. But, more importantly, clinically, she is also quite stable.
Sarah has been under Dr. Gomez's care since October of 2003. Since then she has had several different braces, all addressing different issues and applying different forces in different areas as she has grown and changed. Currently, both curves in her spine, as measured by X-ray are so negligible, the Orthopedist does not even assign a number to them. But, more importantly, clinically, she is also quite stable.
Sarah has been extremely cooperative and positive about wearing her brace. We have never seen it in a negative light. Of course it helps that it comes in a wide range of "cool patterns". Currently she's into the "cheetah" style; having outgrown the "butterfly" phase. We have always viewed it as a ticket out of surgery, as a tool to avoid spinal fusion, as an amazing piece of engineering.
We have been committed to wearing it as directed, 23 hours a day, because we understand that this is a small price to payfor enormous benefits later. Plus, the brace does not show underneath her clothes so no one even knows she's wearing it, unless she chooses to tell them. However, we have come to realize through this experience that the brace is only as good as the design and the designer behind it. Dr. Gomez's expertise has really made the difference. He has a keen understanding of the physics, the various materials, and the specific medical issues that underlie the issue. He takes a large number of measurements and considers a variety of factors when designing each of Sarah's braces; taking into account which forces need to be placed in which areas, and to what degree. It is this attention to the specific details of each individual case that truly impresses us. We do not just have a generic "scoliosis brace"; we have a brace designed for Sarah's specific needs at each particular time. On top of this, Dr. Gomez is one of the most humble and respectful doctors we have ever met. He takes the time to explain our specific issues, not only to us as parents, but to Sarah as well. His open and honest communication style really aids in our understanding, Sarah's positive attitude, and ultimately to our success in treatment.