The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, involved around 242 patients from 25 sites across the United States and Canada. All of the participants were between 10 and 15 years of age and had a spinal curvature of 20 to 40 degrees.
The researchers randomized around 116 patients for observation or bracing for at least 18 hours a day, and because too few families agreed to randomization, around 126 children were recruited who chose for themselves between bracing and observation.
"Bracing significantly decreased the progression of patients who are at high risk for progression to the threshold where surgery would be indicated," said lead researcher Dr. Stuart Weinstein, professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Iowa. In fact, the positive results meant the study was stopped early because 72% of children waring braces improved significantly and did not need surgery.
The study is published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.