Creating a Welcoming Environment for Your Scoliosis Patients
When patients first enter our O&P offices, they are frequently already overwhelmed. Many have just found out about their scoliosis. Others have been being observed for years, but were just told that their curves have worsened. Emotions are high as they enter our office for their initial evaluation appointment.
As practitioners, we can take steps to help our patients feel more comfortable not only during their appointment but also feel more comfortable with their diagnosis and brace.
1. Help patients see they are not alone. In your office, you can hang photos of fellow bracers, feature posters with patient results, or offer pamphlets of support. In my office, we created a "Tip Wall" where current bracers offer tips to new bracers just beginning their journey. This is a great way to show patients that other kids and teens have walked our halls. It also keeps our current bracers involved and motivated to keep it up.
2. Normalize scoliosis - approach it as a unique quality instead of a structural abnormality. When patients enter our office, they often feel "abnormal," as if they did something wrong to cause their scoliosis. When I suspect this, I try to frame their scoliosis as something unique and potentially beautiful. All our scoli patients will grow and mature from their experiences, so I think it's fitting to feature beautiful scoliosis artwork in our office.
3. Create a safe environment. With scoliosis, we have to be up close and personal with our patients. If we want our patients to have a pleasant experience in our office, preserving our patients' modesty is of the utmost importance. Whenever I ask patients to change into different attire for our scan, I always explain why we are doing so. If their current clothing is not appropriate for the scan, I also give them clothing options and allow them to choose which they feel most comfortable wearing. The same goes for whenever I must palpate their bony anatomy or take anthropometric measurements. When we inform, they feel empowered.
A few simple changes can make all of the difference for our scoli patients
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