Nonsurgical Treatment for Osteogenesis Imperfecta
Because osteogenesis imperfecta is a lifelong condition, many treatments are aimed at helping fractured bones to heal properly. Other therapies strengthen bones, so that they are less susceptible to break.
For children with the mildest form of osteogenesis imperfecta, doctors at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone may recommend using nonsurgical therapies to strengthen bones during growth. After a child stops growing, nonsurgical treatment is focused on protecting bones and preventing bone loss.
Positioning devices such as splints and casts may be used to immobilize a fractured bone, so that it can heal properly. Larger bones, such as those in the legs and arms, are usually fitted with a plaster or fiberglass cast. A splint may be used to immobilize smaller bones, such as those in fingers and toes, and to keep the bones and joints in a certain position.
Sometimes, an orthopedist recommends using a brace, which permits movement in joints, such as the knee, while maintaining proper alignment and keeping other bones immobilized. Other positioning devices help to stabilize and maintain your child’s alignment while sitting and standing.
Our occupational therapists can teach you and your child how to perform everyday activities, such as getting your child dressed, while wearing a splint, cast, or other positioning device. Physical therapists can teach your child how to perform strengthening exercises while wearing the device. Our therapists can also recommend assistive devices, such as crutches, to help your child move around while wearing a cast or splint.
Bisphosphonates, which are medications that increase bone formation and can improve bone density, may be helpful in preventing new fractures in children with severe forms of osteogenesis imperfecta. The newest types of bisphosphonates require less stringent monitoring by your child’s physician compared to older medications and are usually given through a vein with intravenous (IV) infusion as an outpatient treatment. Some children may be given an IV treatment every three to four months, whereas others may receive these on two to three consecutive days.
For children with osteogenesis imperfecta, regular exercise can strengthen muscles, increase bone density, and improve self-confidence. Our physical therapists work with your child to develop an exercise program that includes low-impact exercises, such as swimming and lifting light weights, which can help your child to strengthen weak muscles and bones and improve coordination and balance without putting too much stress on fragile bones.