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Scoliosis in Trisomy 18 children is a common worry. It develops due to delays in typical developmental milestones, and sometimes as a side effect of medical intervention.
My daughter was barely a year old when the local child development clinic said she needed back surgery to correct scoliosis.
I said, “Uh, no.” She was only a year old for crying out loud. My biggest concern was how many surgeries would she require after an initial back surgery I felt was being pushed too soon. And had they considered alternative therapies? No. No, they hadn’t.
Just a few months before that time, that clinic had denied a helmet as I’d asked when it would have been useful for correcting her head shape. During her time in NICU, due to positioning of oxygen tubes, one side of my daughter’s head had become flatter and I couldn’t correct it.
She outgrew most of the issue with head shape, but I was glad when her hair grew in. Were I able to redo that part of her care, I would have sought the services of an Osteopath (which this YouTube video explains pretty well).
As it was, the clinic had told me they could “crack her skull” to fix it. I said no. And who tells a parent that in that way, anyway?
But also due to positioning in the NICU, she had developed torticollis in her neck and 17 degrees curvature in her back.
My mind raced. After everything we’d been through, she would now have to bow down to back surgery before any attempts at therapy? No way.
So I did what I do best and did some research. I know doctors hate “Dr. Google”, but proper research has nothing to do with what search engine you’re using – tracking down credible sources, though? That’s the stuff good reads are made of.
And I remembered that my dad used to nag at me to “Go see a chiropractor!” as far back as elementary school. I used to carry so many books in my backpack I’d stoop over. Because of how much I loved to read, I hated putting any of my books down. Fine, I was weird. But that’s why my backpack was always so full.
Anyway, that memory encouraged me since my answers kept leading back to chiropractic care for scoliosis in Trisomy 18 children.
About that same time, my husband met a chiropractor – Dr. Taylor Sirois of Restoration Chiropractic in Columbia, Missouri — at the Farmer’s Market who was starting his new practice in the area. Being a massage therapist for over seven years and recently through a physical therapy assistant program, I trust my husband’s judgment of therapists who work with the body. So that’s how we found the chiropractor we wanted our daughter to see.
Aubby’s first chiropractor visit for scoliosis
My husband and I took our daughter to see the chiropractor the following week on November 8, 2016. The waiting room was quite full. We waited our turn to be evaluated.
Finally we were called to a room with a scanning device. An attendant ran the scanner from the bottom of my daughter’s spine up to the base of her head. A screen showed the problem areas along her back.
We waited while the attendant consulted with the chiropractor. Soon, we were presented a care plan and estimate. After agreeing on the initial appointment, our daughter had her first visit for scoliosis.
The work performed was quick, gentle, and careful. Dr. Taylor was very friendly and sweet with Aubby. Unused to chiropractic work I wasn’t sure if anything had happened. What I could tell was that he’d evened out her leg lengths somewhat after some work with her spine and base of her head.
What he’d done was realign Aubby’s C1 at the base of her head and parts of her lumbar area. I might’ve not seen much to get excited about at the appointment, but it soon showed at home.
The first thing I noticed was a visible decrease of torticollis. Before the visit, Aubby’s left ear used to touch her shoulder. After the visit, she was able to pick her ear up halfway away from her shoulder.
We had another visit later that week on November 10, 2016. Suddenly, she was able to turn her head left. She hadn’t been able to turn her head left before that.
The child development clinic did a scoliosis study on November 14, 2016. Meanwhile, we kept our visits with the chiropractor. (I wish I could share the X-ray images, but at the time of this writing I don’t have copies to include in this post. But I can access the reports.)
At ten months old she’d started having solids (jar baby food) but was at risk for choking and aspirating. With torticollis now decreasing(!), she’d started holding her head up during oral feeds and — after a couple more visits — stopped choking.
Then I noticed she was more mobile. At 11 months old, she’d started rolling tummy-to-back and back-to-tummy, but after chiropractic care she was able to start to practice lifting her head without the awkward tilt towards her left shoulder.
Then I noticed her ability to crawl became more pronounced. Being able to use her neck made it easier to use her arms and get them beneath her so she could push herself up.
The second week of visits decreased the arch that she had in her back. That ugly arch that looked so awkward and painful when she tried to do what babies should be able to do… Like lift her head and learn to crawl. As it was, she wasn’t so stiff as she used to be when I picked her up.
And those kinds of improvements have continued since.
Aubby’s progress after chiropractic care
We had a follow-up appointment with Orthopaedics on December 1, 2016. When they took her X-rays, however, the report said she was negative for scoliosis.
That was after less than three weeks of chiropractic care — just that quick. I’d been told she already needed back surgery. But then it wasn’t even showing on X-ray.
At the time of this writing, two years have passed. If she has scoliosis, it’s flexible… and, so far, manageable. We’ve only taken Aubby to the chiropractor for maintenance care. At first, twice a week, which later tapered to twice a month. Now, we take her once every week or two as we keep up with growth spurts.
There’s been little concern for damaging spinal curvature. Her back isn’t perfect, but it’s one less severe health issue I’m actively worried about.
Her development has progressed to stand, crawl, and cruise — and as of half a month ago, she’s now practicing with a walker to learn to walk. She just started using the walker for short distances independently.
I highly recommend preventive chiropractic care for scoliosis in Trisomy 18 children. I’d much rather “take my chances” and TRY therapeutic correction before jumping to putting my child under another surgeon’s knife, through potentially unnecessary pain, and insurance claims.
Surgery has its place, and is truly lifesaving — but preventive care absolutely has its place also, and holds its own when properly applied.
Are you a Trisomy 18 parent who’s used chiropractic care for scoliosis?
If you’re a Trisomy 18 parent who’s used chiropractic care for your child, comment your experience below! I’d love to hear it.