This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Background Spinal flexibility is an essential parameter for clinical decision making on the patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Various methods are proposed to assess spinal flexibility, but which assessment method is more effective to predict the effect of orthotic treatment is unclear. Objective To investigate an effective assessment method of spinal flexibility to predict the initial in-orthosis correction, among the supine, prone, sitting with lateral bending and prone with lateral bending positions. Methods Thirty-five patients with AIS (mean Cobb angle: 28° ± 7°; mean age: 12 ± 2 years; Risser sign: 0–2) were recruited. Before orthosis fitting, spinal flexibility was assessed by an ultrasound system in 4 positions (apart from standing) including supine, prone, sitting with lateral bending and prone with lateral bending. After orthosis fitting, the initial in-orthosis correction was routinely assessed by whole spine standing radiograph. Comparisons and correlation analyses were performed between the spinal flexibility in the 4 positions and the initial in-orthosis correction. Results The mean in-orthosis correction was 41% while the mean curve correction (spinal flexibility) in the 4 studied positions were 40% (supine), 42% (prone), 127% (prone with lateral bending) and 143% (sitting with lateral bending). The correlation coefficients between initial in-orthosis correction and curve correction (spinal flexibility) in the 4 studied positions were r = 0.66 (supine), r = 0.75 (prone), r = 0.03 (prone with lateral bending) and r = 0.04 (sitting with lateral bending). Conclusions The spinal flexibility in the prone position is the closest to and most correlated with the initial in-orthosis correction among the 4 studied positions. Thus, the prone position could be an effective method to predict the initial effect of orthotic treatment on the patients with AIS.
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