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A Plano, TX, physician says a pneumatic bracing device can help relieve low back pain caused by muscle strain or spasm. Stephen Hochschuler, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and chair of the Texas Back Institute in Plano, says the bracing device is similar to a vest that fits around the ribs and pelvis, and a manually activated vacuum element. He says the device acts as a lumbar traction system, with the vest taking pressure off the lumbar discs as the vacuum is activated.
Wearing the vest allows the patient to rest the surrounding musculature, which helps the inflammation and spasm to resolve, Hochschuler says. He says typical candidates for treatment would be patients who have lumbar back pain due to degenerative or herniated discs.
Other traction modalities require that the patient lie in bed, but Hochschuler says the pneumatic bracing vest allows the patient to remain ambulatory and return more quickly to activities of daily living. Patients can perform typical daily tasks, such as showering, without removing the vest.
Known as OrthoTrac, the vest is manufactured by Kinesis Medical of Bloomington, MN, which was recently acquired by Orthofix of Richardson, TX. The device has been approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a class I bracing device and costs $1,200. The company says some insurance companies and other payers have begun reimbursing for it.