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Doctors Use Unconventional Treatment for Scoliosis in Kids

Scoliosis is a potentially fatal condition for children.

Scoliosis is a potentially fatal condition for children. The spine curvature can be improved with surgeries and metal rods, but now doctors believe something simple could cure it in some kids. 

Weeks after her son Cole was born, Jennifer Leggett feared something was wrong. "We got the X-rays and before we even got home, we had a phone call that we had a big problem," Leggett said. 

Cole had a severe form of scoliosis. His spine curved 45 degrees. Experts said surgery could help, but he'd be disabled. "It was probably the scariest moments of my life." 

They soon found Doctor Jim Sanders. He's using an old technique cast aside by experts decades earlier. 

James Sanders, MD with University of Rochester Medical Center said, "They kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater almost literally here since it's really the babies who benefit from this." 

These plaster body casts use pressure to reshape the spine. Kids get a new cast every two months. It keeps some kids from ever needing surgery. For others, it delays surgery until they're older. 

Here is Cole before and after. No surgery required. He remembers the cast well. 

"Every day, I had to wear it and every week," said Cole. Now, he's fully mobile and he's got big plans. "I'm gonna go to space. Also, I'm gonna be a karate master," he said. 

Doctor Sanders says he's been actively training surgeons in the casting technique and it is now available in many sites across the country. He tells us the casting has helped cure about 25-percent of kids with scoliosis and significantly delayed surgery in about 70-percent.
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