Best Practice Guidelines for bracing in AIS

Which are the guidelines for using a brace in idiopathic scoliosis treatment? The study “Establishing consensus on the best practice guidelines for the use of bracing in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis”, just published by the journal Spine Deformity, collected 38 experts who developed a consensus on 67 items across ten domains of bracing which were consolidated into the final best practice recommendations.
Among the experts, from surgeons to physiatrists and physiotherapists, prof. Stefano Negrini, scientific director of Isico: “Bracing is the mainstay of conservative treatment in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS), but currently there is significant variability in the practice of brace treatment for AIS and, therefore, there is a strong need to develop best practice guidelines (BPG) for bracing in AIS“.
How did you go about developing a common consensus?
Following a review of the literature, three iterative surveys were administered. Topics included bracing goals, indications for starting and discontinuing bracing, brace types, brace prescription, radiographs, physical activities, and physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises. A face-to-face meeting was then conducted that allowed participants to vote for or against the inclusion of each item. Agreement of 80% throughout the surveys and face-to-face meeting was considered consensus. Items that did not reach consensus were discussed and revised, and repeat voting for consensus was performed.
 “A common adherence to these BPGs is fundamental for developing common protocols on an international level – ends prof. Negrini – furthermore, this consensus on the guidelines will lead to fewer sub-optimal outcomes in patients with AIS by reducing the variability in AIS bracing practices, and provide a framework for future research”.

Online Master: conclusion of edition 2020

Our international online Master 2020 edition has reached its last session. It started as usual in January and for the first time in a double edition, English and Chinese. Thanks to the online formula consolidated over the time we have been able to proceed in the best possible way and absolute normality in this particular year. 
The last live lesson has been given together by the 3 teachers who perform the live lessons individually during the year, with the closing of prof Stefano Negrini, scientific director of Isico.
We remind you that registrations are open for the 2021 edition with lessons from January to November. The lectures are organised in modules self-administered by the participants except live lectures delivered two times a month.

Also the first Chinese edition of the online Master course closed its doors, with excellent prospects for the second edition in 2021.

For more infos please visit the website: 

Isico involved in an international research project: brace versus plaster cast

An international project involving clinical centres in 40 countries in the US, Canada, Europe and Asia has just started. Target? A comparison between the use of plaster casts and braces in the treatment of infantile scoliosis.
Isico is one of the centres involved, thus representing Italy, expressly invited given the clinical and research experience gained over the years.

The project manager is Prof. Stuart L. Weinstein, referent Dr Lori A. Dolan, both from the American University of Iowa. The target enrollment is 440 subjects (220 patients and 220 parents). For Isico, the head researcher is Prof. Negrini, while Dr Donzelli is involved as the research referent.

We recall that infantile (early-onset) idiopathic scoliosis (IEOS) is a relatively rare disease affecting 40 out of 100,000 children. Defined as an idiopathic curve measuring > 20 degrees in those less than three years of age, the natural history of IEOS is variable with some curves resolving spontaneously and others quickly progressing to such a degree that severe pulmonary disease and shortened life span may occur. Casting, and less frequently bracing, have been used to treat this condition in hopes of resolving the curve or at least delaying surgical interventions.

The plaster cast is widely used for these early forms of scoliosis, but a plaster requires hospitalization, sedation, and daily handling is much less comfortable for hygiene than a removable brace.

“During the two-year duration of the project, funded by the University of Iowa and The Orthopedic Research and Education Foundation, – explains Dr Donzelli – we will bring between 5 and 10 cases treated at our Institute to research purposes. Isico has several years of experience in the use of braces; our participation will not involve the application of plaster casts; our results will be compared with those of other centres that apply these casts “.

A Brace classification study

The study Brace Classification Study Group (BCSG): part one – definitions and atlas, published by Scoliosis and Disorders,  represents the first part of the SOSORT consensus in addressing the definitions and providing a visual atlas of bracing.
Prof. Stefano Negrini, Scientific Director of Isico, is one of the authors who belong to a panel of professionals named the Brace Classification Study Group
Prof. Negrini explains: “The current increase in types of scoliosis braces defined by a surname or a town makes scientific classification essential. Currently, it is a challenge to compare braces and specify the indications of each brace. A precise definition of the characteristics of current braces is needed“. 
As such, the International Society for Scoliosis Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Treatment (SOSORT) mandated the Brace Classification Study Group (BCSG) to address the pertinent terminology and brace classification.
The BCSG introduced several pertinent domains to characterize bracing systems.
The domains are defined to allow for analysis of each brace system. The BCSG has reached a consensus on 139 terms related to bracing and has provided over 120 figures to serve as an atlas for educational purposes. 
During the annual meeting of the International Society for Scoliosis Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Treatment (SOSORT) in Athens in 2008, Prof. Negrini presented a new classification under the acronym BRACE MAP.
BRACE MAP derives from the following terms: Building, Rigidity, Anatomical classification, Construction of the Envelope, Mechanism of action, and Plane of action. Each item was composed of two to seven classificatory elements defined using one or two letters in order to refer specifically to the characteristics of the brace throughout the classification.  
“A visual atlas of various brace types is provided – ends prof. Negrini – This is the first clinical terminology tool for bracing related to scoliosis based on the current scientific evidence and formal multidisciplinary consensus”.

ISICO Telemedicine described in a recently published article

ISICO’s use of the telemedicine approach during the COVID-19 emergency and the data collected in relation to that experience are the focus of a new article by our team, Feasibility and acceptability of telemedicine to substitute outpatient rehabilitation services in the COVID-19 emergency in Italy: an observational everyday clinical-life study, which has just been published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“This is a hugely important publication,” remarks Prof. Stefano Negrini, scientific director of ISICO, “as it testifies to the work done by ISICO right at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis when, in our daily clinical work, we switched to the telemedicine modality in order to avoid having to interrupt the care and treatment of many of our patients”.

Here are a few figures: the article examines data collected over a 15-day telemedicine period, during which 325 teleconsulations and 882 telephysiotherapy sessions were provided. Instead, over the entire lockdown period, the remote sessions numbered 3,231 in total, i.e. 2317 telephysiotherapy sessions and 914 teleconsulations. These are impressive numbers, especially if we consider the high level of patient satisfaction recorded (2.8/3).

ISICO has longstanding experience in caring for and monitoring young scoliosis patients (children and adolescents) living all over Italy and also abroad. Precisely for this reason, i.e. in order to find a way of allowing farther-flung patients to travel to the centre less often, it has already experimented with various telemedicine tools. 

In fact, over the years, ISICO patients, some even living in other continents (such as Australia and the USA), have been able to follow long-term treatment programmes, thanks to the availability of online consultations.

Therefore, our temporary recourse to online consultations and treatments following the COVID outbreak and during the subsequent lockdown did not constitute a completely new experience, but rather a speeding up of a process that was already under way. 

“This strategy aims to decrease the heavy impact on the health systems and allow hospitalisation and intensive care of the huge number of patients in need, thereby reducing the overall mortality” explains Prof. Negrini. But “the COVID-19 emergency is hitting hard not only infected patients, but also all the others. In many countries, outpatient services have been fully closed due to the need for physicians to treat COVID-19 patients, and also to reduce the risk of infection linked to travelling. This has left outpatients are on their own and mostly self-managing. This is not acceptable for diseases that can still show sudden, important progressions, even in the space of a few months, and it is even less acceptable in children.”

How did telemedicine at ISICO work? The telemedicine services consisted of teleconsultations and telephysiotherapy sessions, which lasted as long as usual interventions. They were delivered using free teleconference apps, caregivers were actively involved, and interviews and counseling were performed as usual. 
Teleconsultations included standard, but adapted, measurements and evaluations by video and using photographs and videos prepared according to specific tutorials and sent in beforehand.  During telephysiotherapy sessions, new sets of exercises were defined and recorded as usual.

In the article, we considered 3 phases: the first covers the usual services delivered, over a period of  30 working days (January 7th to February 23rd), prior to the discovery of the spread of COVID-19 the second phase (February 24th to March 14th) was the one in which COVID-19 began to impact  on our usual services, but before we started using the telemedicine approach; finally the last data analysed refer to the 15 working days from our introduction of exclusively Telemedicine consultations (starting from March 16th)

What came out of the study?

That “Telemedicine is feasible and allows us to keep on providing outpatient services that meet with patients’ satisfaction. In the current pandemic,” Prof. Negrini concludes, “telemedicine has been shown to be effective in specific areas of care, particularly where technology is involved. To our knowledge there are no published results about the application of telemedicine to patients with spinal deformities,” and the publication of this article shows that “this strategy can provide a viable alternative to closure of many outpatient services”.

Telemedicine: the video explaining

Prof. Stefano Negrini, medical director of Isico explains how the examinations and treatments evolve during the Coronavirus epidemic.
Isico maintains its commitment and the trust that patients have given us by putting their health in our hands.

Rehabilitation: the comment of prof. Negrini on Lancet

When discussing health care in disability, it is essential to talk about rehabilitation. Yet it is not always obvious. Precisely for this prof. Stefano Negrini, as director of the Group of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (Cochrane Rehabilitation), developed the comment “Prioritising people with disabilities implies furthering rehabilitation” to the editorial “Prioritising disability in universal health coverage“.
Both were published in the scientific journal Lancet.
“Unfortunately, it happens that even major magazines forget the central role of rehabilitation, which is why this comment had the aim of emphasising the theme. We fully agree with the Editors regarding the need to prioritise disability in universal health coverage – he commented Prof. Negrini –  but we want to emphasise that for the World Health Organization (WHO) this implies also strengthening the rehabilitation health strategy.
Because of changing health and demographic trends, an increase in the number of people living with permanent disabilities, but also of people experiencing disabilities with the potential of recovery, has been observed. 
1 billion people live with disabilities,  while 2·4 billion people experience disabilities.  
Rehabilitation serves both groups: by reducing the number of people transitioning from experiencing a disability to living with a disability, maximising the benefits of other health services, and reducing the overall costs“. 

The comment concludes with these words: “WHO has included rehabilitation in the universal health coverage mandate together with other public health strategies including promotion, prevention, treatment, and palliative care… Paradoxically, the fundamental struggle for the rights of people living with disabilities somehow drove the attention to those with permanent and stable disabilities and social rehabilitation, without including those with evolving and changing conditions, who are the target groups of the rehabilitation health strategy. Rehabilitation strengthening advocated by WHO is in line with disability prioritisation emphasised in the Editorial, but will also reduce the burden of disability on the population and the costs of health services worldwide“.