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Advice on traveling with children with scoliosis

Advice on traveling with children with scoliosis

04/11/2016

Whether congenital, due to poor posture or overloading (heavy backpacks), scoliosis is quite a common problem in children. How should your child travel by car if they have scoliosis? Do you need to take any special precautions when putting them in a child seat? We answer all your questions here.

According to Dr Inmaculada Bodegas Canora, a pediatrician at the Department of Pediatrics and Neonatology at the University Hospital Quirónsalud in Madrid and the Hospital Quirónsalud San José, "scoliosis refers to a curvature of the spinal column in the anteroposterior plane of more than 10º" in other words, for a diagnosis of scoliosis, there needs to be a curve of more than 10º.

In this respect, scoliosis can be classified by the age at which it first appears, being infantile from birth up to three years, juvenile when it appears between the ages of three and ten, and adolescent after the age of ten. "Infantile scoliosis is rare, juvenile slightly more common and adolescent the most frequent, accounting for 89 percent of all cases," says the doctor.

To ascertain whether your child has scoliosis or not, there is a very simple screening test known as the Adam's Test. "This evaluates the asymmetry of the spinal cord from behind with the child bending forwards. The test is regarded as positive when the child's torso has a hump at the dorsal level or a lumbar deformity. The scale, type of curvature and level of development of the axial skeleton can be evaluated by X-Ray," continues the doctor, who notes that "treatment is very standardized, taking into account the type and degree of curvature and the gender and development of the person concerned."

Treatment of scoliosis

"Observation is the recommended course of action for mild scoliosis during the development phase or for moderate curvature (less than 40º) if growth is completed," notes Dr Inmaculada Bodegas Canora.

A corset is used for curvature of 25º to 45º in still-developing children to prevent future progression of the curvature while the spinal column is still growing.

Surgical treatment is recommended for all curvatures of over 45º in young girls before they reach puberty, and also in curvatures of 40º-45º that continue to present despite a corset, and in mature adolescents with a curvature of over 50º. The objective of this treatment is to correct the curvature and prevent its progression. Generally speaking, it is done by fitting screws and bars in the vertebra involved in the deformity and realigning the spinal column with different instruments. Most children can resume sporting activities within six to nine months of surgery.

Advice on traveling by car

The pediatrician highlights the importance of ensuring children's safety with an approved child restraint system suitable for the height and weight of each child, and always positioned in the back seat. 

"Patients with mild scoliosis who just need clinical observation, and people with moderate scoliosis who need a corset, should use approved child restraint systems suitable for their age, height and weight, just like other children of their age," she says.

Given that most types of scoliosis tend to be idiopathic and occur more frequently in adolescents or children over the age of 10, it is important to maintain the use of child restraint systems until the child has reached a height of 150 cm, and to ensure that their seat belt is affixed properly after that height.

"It is particularly important that children with severe scoliosis due to neuromuscular, congenital, trauma or syndromic causes use child restraint systems adapted to their underlying pathology," she emphasizes.

However, "if the patient has needed surgery you must always follow the specialist's advice, who, depending on the progress of the patient, will tell you if and when they can travel by car," she concludes. 

"It is particularly important that children with severe scoliosis due to neuromuscular, congenital, trauma or syndromic causes use child restraint systems adapted to their underlying pathology," she emphasizes.

However, "if the patient has needed surgery you must always follow the specialist's advice, who, depending on the progress of the patient, will tell you if and when they can travel by car," she concludes. 


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