Getting a scoliosis diagnosis can be upsetting and even downright frightening at times. Regardless of what age group you belong to, it can be a difficult diagnosis to come to terms with.
Scoliosis is a physical disease, but one that can significantly affect your mental state as well. Especially for young, impressionable children and teenagers.
As a parent, scoliosis can be a tough diagnosis to help your child through. Aside from the pain, they might refuse to put on scoliosis bracing or go through periods of depression. You might be wondering how you can help your child work through their emotions during this difficult phase.
How Can You Help Your Child?
The disease causes physical deformity, pain, neurological, and respiratory issues and hinders one’s ability to perform simple daily activities. That, coupled with all the misinformation out there about limited treatment options and highly risky surgical correction, contribute to feelings of fear and panic.
Younger patients are often more susceptible to these myths and their ill effects. A simple step to help your child deal with the physiological issues of scoliosis is to keep them in the loop. It might be your first instinct to shield your child from worrisome news. But to win their trust, you must become their source of accurate information and updates regarding their illness.
Awareness is often the first step toward dealing with psychological issues. If your child has scoliosis, it’s important to remember that the effects of this disease are not limited to physical symptoms only.
Equipping yourself with accurate information is the first step you can take in your quest to help your child. Here are some ways scoliosis can impact your child and how you can help them.
Impact on Self-Image
Conversations around scoliosis treatment often revolve around the spine, scoliosis bracing, and surgical treatment options. At times, caregivers and even doctors can forget that the patient they are discussing is a genuine person.
Adolescence is a time filled with many changes and body-image issues related to these changes. Fitting in and feeling acceptance from peers is often the gauge teenagers use to judge their self-worth. A scoliosis diagnosis at a time like this can further wreak havoc on the young adult’s emotional well-being.
Research finds that female patients treated with scoliosis bracing are at even higher risk for a deeper psychological impact. Knowing that teenagers diagnosed with scoliosis are at a higher risk for mental illnesses better prepares caregivers and parents for dealing with these issues.
Encourage them to keep wearing their scoliosis brace for the recommended time daily. Taking steps to improve their condition actively can help combat feelings of helplessness in young patients, and scoliosis bracing is a way to do just that.
Make sure you are your child’s biggest cheerleader. Encourage them to try new things. Positive re-enforcement from you can help counter the psychological effects of a physical mal-formation.
Impact on Close Relationships
Scoliosis can make your teenager feel isolated and like no one understands what they are going through. Even with scoliosis bracing, and surgery, the deformity often alters the patient’s appearance and causes emotional trauma. That naturally takes a toll on close relationships as the child withdraws from social life in an attempt to hide away.
Understanding that your child might have good and bad pain days is helpful. It might be uncomfortable for them to sit for long hours at a social event, or they might feel awkward in dressy formal attire. Try and narrow down what exactly they feel self-conscious about.
Sometimes, the nature of the activities makes them hesitant to join in. Dancing or swimming are often possible for children with mild scoliosis. Still, it might be their hesitation to wear a swimming costume over scoliosis bracing that makes them avoid such activities.
In such cases, make sure to schedule events they can not only participate in but feel confident while doing so. Be your child’s advocate and never force them to partake in activities they are insecure about trying. Creating awareness about the disease can better equip your family and friend circle to become the support system your child needs.
Fear of Dependency and Regressing Quality of Life
Another fear commonly noted with younger scoliosis patients are having to depend on others for their basic needs. As the condition progresses, quality of life can be negatively affected if the condition goes untreated. Anxieties regarding decreasing quality of life and maintaining autonomy over tasks can cause depression for proud adolescent patients.
Thankfully, scoliosis bracing is an excellent non-surgical option for mild to moderate scoliosis patients. Especially for younger patients as their bodies and backbones are especially pliable.
Try to find a local scoliosis support group in your vicinity. Seeing other individuals lead successful lives despite being diagnosed with scoliosis can often be inspirational for your child.
Get Them the Help They Need
Try as you might, parents can do only so much to mentally support their children diagnosed with an illness. Encouraging your child to seek professional help can go a long way in canceling out the emotional effects of scoliosis.
Group therapy and support groups can also play a favorable role in your child’s mental wellbeing. Talk to your child’s doctor about scheduling sessions with a physiotherapist. They might be able to identify underlying issues that you've missed and give your child timely help.
Together We Can Defeat Scoliosis
Fighting scoliosis can be a long and debilitating battle for you and your child. One with significant psychological implications as well as physical ones. Please know that it’s one you don’t have to face alone.
Our spine experts at Align Clinic and trained not only in scoliosis bracing, but are also well aware of the emotional toll it can take on a young adult. They have helped hundreds of patients just like your child in their journey to recovery from scoliosis.
Call us today to book an appointment with one of our doctors.
Traveling with prosthesis and orthosis equipment requires some pre-planning on your part. That guarantees a seamless and hassle-free travel experience throughout your voyage.
In the first part of this two-part series, we discussed why it’s important to research all aspects of your trip beforehand. How knowing what to pack and how to carry your orthosis devices can help you travel without worry.
You might also be wondering how to choose a vacation spot that can best suit your specific needs. Getting through security with your orthosis gear is also something that keeps people that require orthosis avoiding traveling.
Having tons of questions and concerns is completely normal. Information is how you beat that fear of the unknown.
Learn from the experiences of others who have traveled with orthosis, then tailor that advice to suit your situation. That’s the best way to equip yourself with the tools you need to enjoy a peaceful journey.
Researching Orthosis-Compatible Destinations
Being spontaneous is great, but having the peace of mind that comes with pre-planning is even better! Just like your orthosis gear makes it possible to lead an active and assistance-free life, in-depth research will ensure that your trip goes with no hiccups.
Construction requirements vary from region to region. If you’re traveling abroad, keep in mind that the hotel you plan to stay in might not adhere to the same accessibility regulations as the USA.
Don’t assume that elevators and ramps will be as readily available everywhere as within the state. Make sure you can easily reach the hotel, room, and floor you pick. Ask about backup elevators and wheelchair ramps, even if you require their use only occasionally.
If the hotel you’re planning to stay at has a pool or spa, ask about what measures they take to ensure that someone with orthosis can get in and out of the pool safely. Your hotel might be unable to launder your shrinker socks and liner, so pack extras and carry detergent to ensure hygiene.
Keeping a Time Buffer
Keep in mind that your residual limb might react differently when your level of physical activity changes. Climate changes, heat, and sweat can alter how your orthosis equipment feels. Scheduling time buffers into your travel plan will ensure you don’t miss your bookings and flights.
That is especially true when it comes to booking connecting flights. You might want to break up travel time by booking two connecting flights instead of a single long-haul flight to reach your destination.
While this is a great idea that can help prevent swelling, it’s important to keep ample time between the connecting flights to ensure you can get through security checks.
Don’t forget to keep a few days of rest time after returning from your trip. There might be swelling on your residual limb from the travel. Or you might simply be too exhausted to commute straight to work the next day after returning.
Getting Your Orthosis Through Security
Getting through security with your orthosis gear in tow can seem intimidating. Knowing how the screening will be carried out can restate your fears and better prepare you. Getting to the airport in time is crucial.
Aim for at least a three-hour time buffer during the busy summer and holidays. You might want to increase this time further if the airport is larger. Dress in comfortable clothing in which you can easily and quickly take your orthosis gear and put it back on again discreetly.
The same goes for the shoes. It’s best to keep your carry-on luggage as light as possible to keep your hands free from taking your shoes on and off.
As a general rule, TSA doesn’t require any orthosis or prosthesis equipment to be taken off during security screening. However, it still helps to prepare for the possibility that you might have to remove your gear. You might even volunteer to do so to speed up the screening process.
Expect X-Ray screening, pat-downs, and swabbing of your orthosis gear to be part of the security check.
Consider getting a TSA notification card made. It can save you from explaining your condition countless times to different security officials. It can also accelerate the screening process for you and your travel companions.
Dealing With Swelling
Swelling on the residual limb is a common side-effect of sitting for long hours during your journey. Try and walk about the plane, or stretch your legs at every stop if traveling by bus.
Be it on a bus, train, or plane, request a seat as close to the entrance as possible so you can easily settle in and de-board when needed.
If you take your prosthetics off after settling into your seat, make sure you ask for assistance from a flight attendant or crew member to stow them away safely. It’s also essential to wear a shirker sock to minimize swelling on your residual limb. If your swelling gets out of hand, it can become difficult or even impossible to fit your orthosis gear over your limb.
Traveling With Orthosis Gear Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful!
Remember to ask for assistance when needed and listen to your body’s cues while traveling. It’s easy to forget to take your medication on time and schedule proper rest while on vacation.
Over-exertion can cause pain and swelling in your leg and spoil an otherwise great trip.
Stress-free traveling is easier when you have professional advice to guide you. Talk to a prosthetist before you start planning your trip. Book an appointment with our expert orthosis specialist at Align clinic to address any concerns you might have.
Adapting to life while wearing a prosthetic, brace, or any limb orthosis device can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. But one that you’ve conquered like a warrior. So well that you’re now ready to break out of the rut and treat yourself to some vacation days at a beautiful destination.
Be it the wedding of a loved one, or just some days under the sun.
You might be wondering how to make traveling as seamless as possible with your orthosis apparatus. What destinations might be ideal, and what modes of transportation suit you best.
Just like travel options, orthosis gear, too, has undergone massive evolution when it comes to diversity of choices. Most gear these days is lighter, stronger, and more durable than ever. And so is the range of activities it makes possible for you when choosing a vacation spot to de-stress.
Your life goals and plans shouldn’t have to be altered just because you require the help of an orthosis device in your daily routine.
Amputees and those who require the added support of prosthetic and orthosis equipment because of medical conditions can still enjoy their vacations. With some creativity on your part and lots of thorough planning and research, you can still tick off that dream destination from your bucket list this summer.
Planning an Orthosis-Friendly Trip
Orthosis equipment should never be a hindrance in the way of your achieving all you envision for your life. Instead, view it as the supporting crew that makes any successful performance possible.
The more you invest your time in the initial planning stages, the better your chances of enjoying a truly relaxing trip connecting with nature. Rather than worrying about how your liner sleeve will react to sweat and the tropical sun.
This is the internet era, meaning most information is readily available to you from the comfort of your home.
The trick here is knowing what to plan for and how to adapt the information you fit your specific situation.
An essential part of enjoying a successful trip is having your orthosis gear in optimal condition throughout your time away. Always take a proactive approach towards challenges you might face while traveling.
Will your orthosis device fit you after five hours of air travel? Will the hotel you’ve booked be able to provide suitable travel options to explore the city? Will you be able to buy the special detergent you use to clean your orthosis equipment at the destination you have in mind?
These are the questions you should be asking yourself and planning for. Knowing the risks can help you adopt a proactive approach to preparing for them.
Weeks before your trip, start jotting down all the supplies and gear you use on a daily or weekly bases to care for your orthosis. Sometimes, it’s easy to overlook essential items we regularly use in our routine because they become second nature to us.
Pre-checking Your Orthosis Equipment
Think of your orthosis devices as an extension of your body and plan accordingly.
A significant precautionary step you should take at least a week before your departure day is giving all your orthosis equipment a thorough check.
Methodically checking your gear might save you from the hassle of tracking down compatible equipment in a foreign destination, should something break or need replacing.
Make sure to discuss the destination you plan to travel to and the expected weather conditions there. Another critical point to discuss is how your gear might react to higher activity levels during vacation. They might also be able to identify any blind spots you might have overlooked during your research and planning.
Packing Your Orthosis Equipment
This might seem like an obvious tip: it’s crucial to pack any spare orthosis parts or gear you might require for the duration you plan to stay away. Just like you pack sunscreen, appropriate shoes, and clothing.
It helps to remember that within the USA and in most of Europe, prosthetic and orthosis gear can be carried without paying excess baggage charges. Some airlines limit this rule to bags and suitcases that exclusively carry orthosis equipment.
So, pack all gear in a separate checked luggage bag to be on the safe side. Always check all packing guidelines and regulations regarding carry-on equipment beforehand.
That doesn’t mean you must pack spares for every piece of your orthosis equipment. Just the ones you feel you might need during your time away.
Here is a handy checklist of supplies you might need:
Ready for a Great Trip?
Align Clinic is committed to restoring normalcy to your life with orthosis and prosthesis. Traveling with an orthosis gear is a challenge that gets easier when you practice due diligence during all stages. Planning and research are the pre-conditions for enjoying a great vacation.
For a comfortable traveling experience, read part two of this article, where we discuss how to choose your destination, what to look for when choosing accommodations, and tips for getting through security with your orthosis equipment.
Book an appointment today with one of our orthosis experts to discuss any questions or concerns you might have.
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