Living with scoliosis and wearing a soft back brace: an explorative study of older adults

A Park, Jonathan Ling, Josette Bettany-Saltikov

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


    Relevance: Approximately 68% of older adults have someform of spinal deformity which is associated with age and can result in significant back pain, limited mobility as well asproblems with activities of daily living. Very little is known about older patients experiences of scoliosis and the impact of wearing a brace to decrease back pain and increase mobility. Purpose: The primary purpose was to explore patients’ experiences of living with scoliosis using a qualitative approach. The secondary purpose was to evaluate patients perceptions of wearing a soft back brace together with their experiences of the overall functionality and practicalities ofthe brace design. Methods/analysis: Eight participants aged 55 and over who were diagnosed with adult scoliosis were interviewed in this explorative study. All patients were advised to wear a softback brace for 6 months This time point was selected as it was believed by the clinicians that it would be where the most noticeable changes in the patients’ health and pain scores would be observed. Furthermore, 6 months gave enough time for any initial teething problems with wearing the brace to be identified and resolved, as well as allowing the patients to reflect on their experiences of wearing the brace over a reasonable period of time. Ethical approval was obtained from the relevant NHS committee as well as the ethics committee of the university of Sunderland. Results: From the interview transcripts, four major themes emerged: Persistence of pain, the impact of the brace on pain and daily living, problems with the brace shorts and satisfaction with the study. From the responses the participants gave and themes that emerged it was apparent the brace did offer a reduction in the participants’ pain. This was especially apparent when taking into account the extra activities that the participants described they were able to partake in whilst wearing the brace. Discussion and conclusions: The results and themes generated from the semi-structured interviews indicated that the primary experience of living with scoliosis is one of persistent pain and limited activity, with all participants identifying these two factors as the main issues. Furthermore, the results also identified and highlighted design problems and limitations with the brace shorts that were previously unknown and have since been rectified. An additional result from this study was the identification that the literature is very sparseon adults with scoliosis and in terms of research that has examined adult experiences of living with scoliosis with the exception of two studies, the area is severely under published. Impact and implications: The main experiences of living with scoliosis were of constant pain and limited activity levels. This study also identified the benefits patients experienced whilst wearing the brace along with the previously unknown functional problems that were associated with wearing the brace such as the comfort and practicalities of the brace design. As a result of the findings of this study, the company manufacturing the brace have subsequently changed the design of their brace to try to resolve some of the functional problems that the participants in this study encountered. Funding acknowledgement: No funding was obtainedfor this study.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)e214
    Issue numberSupplement 1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


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