Research and Innovation

At our Pediatric Spine Center, we are always evaluating treatment options, developing innovative models for care, and collaborating with other researchers to improve care for children and adolescents with spine conditions. Our physician scientists have grant funding from national and international societies.

Collaborative approaches to innovation

We are contributing members of the Pediatric Spine Study Group (PSSG), which is the largest international registry of pediatric spinal patients. Through this organization, we participate in investigations to develop and evaluate new treatment options for pediatric scoliosis.

We are also contributing members of Setting Scoliosis Straight, a quality improvement registry for surgical treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). This community of surgeons aims to identify best practices in surgical care for AIS and works to ensure that children with AIS get the most effective treatment.

Ongoing research

Our doctors and researchers are working to develop better treatments and improve patient outcomes. Some of our efforts include:

  • Virtual reality therapy for pediatric chronic pain. We have several studies investigating the use of virtual reality to control pain and improve quality of life among pediatric spine patients. These include virtual reality for procedural pain and anxiety, and for acute and chronic pain, and to augment physical therapy.
  • Innovations in bracing and nonoperative care. In many types of scoliosis, bracing is important because it can prevent curve progression, and untreated curve progression can lead to the need for spinal surgery. We are developing and investigating how handheld 3-D scanners might help diagnose and monitor progression in scoliosis without radiation. And, using a research grant awarded from the Scoliosis Research Society, we are collaborating with engineers in Stanford’s Technology Enabled Clinical Improvement Center to evaluate how pressure sensors can help us design more effective braces.
  • Brace-wearing compliance. Complying with brace-wearing guidelines can be challenging. We are testing whether monitoring technology can help patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis better adhere to their brace-wearing guidelines.
  • Innovations in surgical care. Using a research grant awarded from the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, we have assembled a multidisciplinary team to study a new nerve block technique to decrease pain and enhance recovery after spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis. And our surgeons have undergone advanced training to offer new motion-preserving surgical techniques that may be alternatives to spinal fusion for some patients with scoliosis. The first technique, called anterior vertebral body tethering (AVBT), is designed to surgically correct some types of scoliosis using your child’s natural growth as they get older. The second technique, called an internal brace, may preserve spinal motion while correcting scoliosis.