What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition in which the curvature of the spinal cord changes into S or C shape. Even though the degree of the curvature is often measured in coronal plane, scoliosis condition is a three-dimensional (3D) problem.

The cause of the abnormal curvature of the spinal cord is yet unknown but physicians and doctors view that cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal injuries, and spina bifida can cause scoliosis. There are few imaging tests that determine scoliosis such as X-Ray, CT scan, MRI scan, and bone scan.

Some common symptoms of scoliosis

  • Problem in breathing owing to the reduced area around the chest
  • Uneven shoulder blades
  • Uneven waist
  • Uneven hips
  • Back pain
  • Uneven shoulders

What are some treatments for scoliosis?

Adult or adolescent patients with minor scoliosis are majorly recommended for chiropractic treatment, which alleviates the pain and improves the flexibility while patients with severe scoliosis are treated with surgery. Various minimally invasive surgeries are adopted by adult patients who have a curvature of spinal cord greater than 40°. However, risks associated with surgical disorders is a key restraining factor that can discourage patients with scoliosis to go for braces. The patients with mid scoliosis can go with braces, which is mostly utilized by children or teenagers.

How does exactly scoliosis brace work?

Scoliosis brace is a device that is worn around the torso to prevent increase in the curvature of spinal cord. Additionally, it decreases the need for surgery in the future. In the modern healthcare ecosystem, braces are the only devices that can slow the progression of the curvature disorder of patients.

The braces put pressure on the curvature, which further avoids the expansion in the curvature. It helps the body to maintain the required posture. However, it cannot correct the spine permanently. Scoliosis braces have been used for the treatment for several years. According to American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), around 80% of braces treatment are found effective and the treatment effectiveness usually takes three to four years. Doctors recommend patients to wear braces around 16 hours a day.

Types of Scoliosis Braces

There are two types of braces such as full-time and night time braces.

  1. Full-time braces

  • Boston Brace

The most common type of brace recommended by doctors is Boston Brace. It is a type of thoracic-lumbar-sacral orthosis (TLCO). Boston Brace effectively exerts pressure on the convex (outside) part of the spinal cord and also relieves the concave (inner) side of the spine by preventing the outgrow of curvature.
This type of brace has been reported effective for the patient having the curvature size less than 30°. The orthotist (the person who makes the brace) takes the measurement of the patient’s body and accordingly modifies the prefabricated brace. During the process, the orthotist follows the curvature of patient’s spinal cord to deliver the best results.  In 2017, Boston Orthotics & Prosthetics launched Boston Brace 3D to enhance the brace design with the help of CAD/CAM technology.

  • Wilmington Brace

This type of brace is custom-fitted to the patient. Wilmington Brace is also known as full contact TLSO owing to the lack of gaps, which are found in Boston Brace. In this type of brace, the brace is custom made, in which the orthotist makes the mold of the patient torso and accordingly delivers effective bracing to patients.

  • Milwaukee Brace

It is one of the first cervico-lumbar-sacral-orthosis (CLSO) scoliosis braces, which was invented in 1940s to treat the patients with scoliosis. However, a major disadvantage of the brace is that it is little heavier in weight, which makes to reduce the demand for the product. On the other hand, patients with higher cervical spine usually opt this type of brace. Milwaukee brace consists of neck ring, throat mold, rib pad, and pelvic corset. This type of brace is recommended to wear 23 hours a day.

  1. Night-time braces

  • Charleston Bending Brace

This type of brace is the most commonly used night-time brace among the scoliosis patients. Charleston Bending Brace is a custom-built brace in which the mold is made and corrected forces are added on the mold as per the requirement given in the patient’s spine X-Ray. This brace applies lateral forces to avoid increase in the curvature of the spinal cord. It was developed in 1979 by C. Ralph Hooper, Jr., CPO along with group of orthopedic specialists.

  • Providence Brace

This brace bends the spine in the opposite direction as of Charleston bending brace. Providence brace has the capability to move the spine toward midline. Doctors prefer either of the night-time braces, which depends on their experience. Most of the doctors prescribe night-time bracing options for single curves less than 35°.

Market Dynamics & Trends

As per the detailed report published by Growth Market Reports, the global scoliosis braces market was valued at USD 187.9 Million in 2019 and is anticipated to reach USD 260.3 Million by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 4.4% during the forecast period, 2020-2027.

According to AANS, around 2-3% of the population are having risks to be suffering from scoliosis in the US. As per a data published by Hopkins Medicine, around three million new scoliosis patients are diagnosed in the same country. Rising prevalence of scoliosis or musculoskeletal disorders is anticipated to propel the growth of the market during the forecast period. Moreover, the increasing number of cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy patients is expected to spur the market growth.

The market is segmented into products, types, applications, and regions. The product segment is divided into Boston Braces, Charleston Bending Braces, Rigo-Cheneau Braces, SpineCor Braces, Wilimgton Braces, and others. In terms of types, the scoliosis market is segregated into cast braces, rigid braces, dynamic braces, and non-rigid braces. On the basis of applications, the market is categorized as adolescent (10 to 18 years of age), infantile (newly birth to 3 years old), juvenile (3 to 9 years old), and adult.  By regions, the market is classified as North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and Latin America.

Major Challenges Faced by Scoliosis Braces Market

  • Lack of awareness

Scoliosis is being treated in various ways, which lead to the lack of a clear approach among the scoliosis treatment practitioners. Patients in the emerging economies are unaware about the particular treatments such as usage of braces. Moreover, the problems associated with spinal curvature less than 20° are usually ignored in the low and middle-level countries, which can inhibit the market growth in the projected timeline.

  • Availability of alternatives

Various companies have entered in the treatment of scoliosis in alternative ways. Wearing of braces can lead to breathing problems and might weaken the muscles. According to Norwegian Study of the TLSO, braces can decrease pulmonary functions. Thus, to counter that, various innovation are being carried out in the scoliosis treatment market. For instance, ScoliSMART Clinics, a US-based company, has launched an exercise training routine to create muscle memory and hold the spine in a straight way.
The presence of natural ways to straighten or avoid the curvature in spinal cord has acts as a key restraining factor that reduces the demand for braces in the emerging economies.

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the market

The coronavirus pandemic had increased the burden on the healthcare sector. This, in turn, has plummeted the sales of braces across the globe. Rising trend of the telehealth industry has encouraged patient to conduct exercise programs online,  which results in discounting the use of braces. However, the market is slowly recovering as clinics related to scoliosis are slowly opening across the globe.

Competitive Landscape

The major players of the scoliosis braces market are Boston Orthotics & Prosthetics, Colfax Corporation, Chaneco, Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics, Professional Technologies International, PROTEOR Group, Spinal Technology, Inc., Aspen Medical Products, LLC, Thrive Orthopedics, C H Martin Company, The SpineCorporation Limited, LA Brace Center, Fited, and Lawall. Some of the key Industry players are engaging in collaborations, partnerships, acquisitions, and agreements with hospitals, research centers, clinics, and medical universities to expand their market share.

In March 2021, VNTC, a South Korea-based company, designed a brace named Spinamic that helps the patient with scoliosis to correct the posture. The company claims that its device is fabric-based, lightweight, and inexpensive. Its brace includes 3-point pressure system to provide optimum pressure on the back.
In December 2020, FLEXpine Orthosis Lab conducted trials with Bundang Branch of Seoul National University Hospital’s Orthopedic Department to test the effect of the FLEXpine brace on scoliosis patients. Its brace is produced with the help of 3D printing technology.