The team at Scoliosis and Spine Associates (SSA) in New York City knows a thing or two about curves and angles. Decades of experience treating scoliosis patients has taught them that their job is actually a fine-tuned balance of social work, biomechanical adaptation, medical innovation and when necessary, surgical precision. In fact, you might say their work empowers the patient from every – and any – angle needed.
Dr. Vasantha Murthy, who is Board-certified in Rehabilitation Medicine, and Certified Orthotist Isabelle (Liz) Rauch lead the non-surgical side of the practice. Together with Dr. Baron Lonner, professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Attending spine surgeon at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, they continuously study and search for workable treatment alternatives.
Drs. Murthy, Lonner and Liz each came to their focus on the treatment of irregular spinal curvature at a time when scoliosis treatment options were far more intrusive. And yet, each still speaks with such empathy for the patient, you know that is exactly why they are still so motivated to do what they do, day-in and day-out.
They know first-hand that today’s bracing advances are far more adaptable and acceptable than any they’ve worked with in the past 30 years. And they are determined to help ease any initial emotional reactions by always being the advocate for the patient. They know that patients and their families want correction and comfort.
Liz Rauch started as an understudy to the developer of the Boston brace, a heavy plastic apparatus that had been the standard in bracing since the early 1970s. That was before the advent of 3D printing and advanced and breathable braces like UNYQ Align™.
“I started out as a social worker years ago so I’ve always been very cognizant of the emotional component. We regard it as our responsibility to be the cheering squad for these kids,” said Liz. “But I have also always enjoyed playing with tools and designing stuff. Curves and angles are so intriguing to me. I work those angles to get the exact correction and not have a young person go to surgery. That, to me, is a very motivating factor.”
Dr. Murthy’s introduction to scoliosis treatment was perhaps much like the patients she sees every day. She says she was sort of just thrown into it, wide-eyed and almost completely unaware of exactly what scoliosis treatment was all about.
“I was just finishing my residency when a leading scoliosis surgeon asked for help with his practice,” recalled Dr. Murthy. “No one talked about scoliosis then. I’d only seen a few spine X-rays. The doctor put up a picture and told me to measure.”
But she was inspired by what she was doing and continues to be motivated by the opportunity to understand the nuances of spine treatment with modern technology advances.
“I fight traffic for two hours every day just because I still love to see those spines in want of correction and then seeing what a totally customized brace can do,” said Dr. Murthy.
“Liz and I complement each other with our thinking and ideas about how to get the maximum correction. That’s how we know the UNYQ Align brace is a quantum leap in bracing. It is so light-weight and allows for air circulation to minimize sweating and it also allows built-in modifications. That is so important to patient care and comfort. And it still delivers the desired results.”
Said Liz, “I think it is a very salient point to understand what has actually evolved is our [collective industry] understanding of scoliosis. It forces me to up my game and sharpen my thinking. With the ability to 3D scan instead of casting and the advanced functionality of UNYQ Align, Dr. Murthy and I have been able to attack curves in a more sophisticated and detailed way than we ever have before.”
The end-goal always is to minimize the progression of spinal curvature. But each member of the team knows getting there requires patient buy-in and motivation.
Added Dr. Lonner, “We give a lot of high-fives in this practice. We want the patients to see treatment in a brace as a bump in the road and then they can get on with their lives and their dreams.”
When patients are happier and clinicians are motivated by the results UNYQ Align helps them achieve in treatment and in the patient’s self-esteem – that’s when you know you are making a difference.
Because empowering scoliosis patients really is about understanding all the right curves. And all the right angles.