To look at James today, an active teenager and competitive swimmer, you would never know that he spent more than 8 years of his life battling scoliosis. And he won.
The family traveled to the Spine and Scoliosis Center at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., for a second opinion with Suken Shah, MD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and spine specialist. Dr. Shah confirmed the original diagnosis and measured a 32-degree curve in James’ upper back and 19-degree curve in his lower back.
Although bracing was recommended as the best option to halt the scoliosis, James’ parents were skeptical. Their daughter had worn a Boston brace without success and, ultimately, had to have spinal fusion surgery to correct her curve. Dr. Shah explained that James would wear a ventilated, custom-fitted Wilmington brace, developed by Nemours’ orthopedic researchers, that could stop further curve progression and prevent surgery through a combination of external forces. The success or failure of halting his curve would be entirely dependent on the amount of time James wore his brace.
And wear the brace he did. James was absolutely committed to wearing his brace — from the age of 8, when he was diagnosed with scoliosis, until he was 16.5. He wore it under loose-fitting clothes everyday to school, would take it off for sports or after-school activities, and then wore his brace to bed every night, averaging 18 hours a day for 8.5 years.