What is scoliosis casting?
If a flower starts to bend sideways as it grows tall, you could tie it to a wooden stake in the ground to help it grow straight. This is what happens if your backbones begin to curve sideways as you grow, much like a bending flower. When this happens in people, we call it scoliosis (pronounced “sko-lee-OH-sis.”) Your doctor may ask you to wear a cast to help straighten out your backbones as you grow tall like a flower.
Casting is used if you start to have a bend in your backbones (we call your backbones your “spine.”) If the bend in your spine is big enough, and you are between one and four years old, your doctor may ask you to wear a cast every day to help your spine grow straight.
What is a cast?
Similar to the molding clay that you play with at the art table, a cast is made from wet, soft material that eventually hardens into a stiff shell. You wear a cast every day underneath your clothes until your doctor thinks the curvature in your spine is fixed, or until you are ready for a brace. A cast cannot get wet, so your parents can help you take a sponge bath or wash your hair in the sink to keep your cast dry.
Your cast is made up of:
- A t-shirt layer that your parents can take off and wash
- A soft cotton liner and padding
- A hard outer shell you can decorate with colored tape
How is a cast made?
To place you in your cast, your doctor will give you some medicines to fall asleep. You need to be asleep so that your body will stay still while your doctor moves your spine into place. Your doctor will straighten out your backbones while you lay down on a special table called a traction table.
When you wake up, you will be wearing your new cast! Someone called a cast technician will visit you to trim any rough edges of your new cast and make sure your arms and legs can move around easily. You can even decorate your new cast with fun, colored tape.
How long do I wear a cast?
Kids ages one to two years old sometimes grow so fast that casts must be replaced every two to three months. If you are four to five years old, your cast will last four to six months until you need a new one. You may wear a cast for several years and then move into a brace once you are old enough.