Neuromuscular Scoliosis in Children

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If your child has been diagnosed with neuromuscular scoliosis, we know that you and your family are under stress, and are already dealing with the underlying neuromuscular condition that’s associated with his scoliosis. So, at Boston Children’s Hospital, we’ll approach your child’s treatment with sensitivity and support—for your child and your whole family. And it will be our constant goal to maximize your child’s function, strength and quality of life.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the team in the Boston Children’s Spinal Program has treated many children with spinal problems—some of which are so rare that few pediatric doctors have ever come across them—and we can offer you expert diagnosis, treatment and care.

About scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine—in addition to the normal front to back curvature—has an abnormal side-to-side “S-” or “C”-shaped curvature. The spine is also rotated or twisted, pulling the ribs along with it to form a multidimensional curve.

Scoliosis occurs, and is treated, as three main types:

   •   neuromuscular scoliosis: associated with a neuromuscular condition such as cerebral palsy, myopathy or spina bifida
   •   congenital scoliosis: present at birth, caused by a failure of the vertebrae to form normally—the least common form
   •   idiopathic scoliosis: occurring with no definite cause

About neuromuscular scoliosis

Neuromuscular scoliosis is the form that’s associated with your child’s underlying nerve and/or muscular condition, which may be:

   •   cerebral palsy
   •   spina bifida
   •   muscular dystrophy
   •   paralysis from spinal cord injury
   •   myopathy
   •   poliomyelitis
   •   spinal cord tumors
   •   Spinal Muscular Atrophy SMA

These types of neuromuscular conditions cause muscles to become weak, spastic or paralyzed—and unable to support the spine, resulting in spinal curvatures.

The Boston Children’s Hospital  approach

Boston Children’s Spinal Program is known for clinical innovation, research and leadership. We’ll provide your child with the most advanced diagnostics and treatments—several of which were developed by our own researchers and clinicians.

As one of the first comprehensive programs, Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center is the largest and most experienced pediatric orthopedic surgery center in the United States, performing more than 6,000 surgical procedures each year. Our program—top ranked in the country by U.S.News & World Report—is the nation’s preeminent care center for children and young adults with neuromuscular, developmental, congenital and post-traumatic problems of the musculoskeletal system.

Some of our team’s unique accomplishments include our:

   •   development of the Boston Brace, a custom bracing sys tem widely used throughout the United States and 
   •   unique experience in the treatment of adolescent hip conditions
   •   success with the VEPTR(vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib) procedure: In 1998, Children’s was
       selected as a site for the first extensive VEPTR use outside San Antonio, where it was developed. Children’s has
       the second most extensive VEPTR experience in the nation.
   •   experience with, and emphasis on, treating infantile (early-onset) scoliosis
   •   experience with, and research in, brachial plexus birth palsy, including our international, multi-center study of
       this complex condition
   •   Sports Medicine Program, including its pioneering research into the regeneration of ACL tissue and growth
       plate-sparing surgeries for ACL repair in pre-adolescents
   •   extensive orthopedic research laboratories
   •   Orthopedic Clinical Effectiveness Research Center for the study of children’s musculoskeletal disorders

Each year, our Spinal Program caregivers provide comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, consultation, treatment and follow-up care for children during more than 6,000 outpatient visits. And every year, our orthopedic surgeons perform more than 300 spine procedures.

Neuromuscular scoliosis: Reviewed by John Emans, MD
© Boston Children's Hospital, 2010

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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