Bones controlled by a curve without spline IK?

I want a chain of bones to conform to a curve, like how you get with the Spline IK constraint. However, I cannot actually use spline IK. I am making hair, and I want to use softbodies on curves, then use bones to transfer the motion to bones that drive a mesh. In order for the softbody self collision to work right, all the curve strands need to be part of one object. However, Spline IK doesn’t seem to work if there are multiple curve strands within the same object. Additionally, spline IK can have problems with curves doing strange rotations around their local Y.

For these reasons I need to use another method. I have seen tutorials for doing something similar by making empties parented to each point of the curve, and then parenting bones to the empties. This looks like it will work, but I’ve got a lot of hair strands, each with several points. It seems very inefficient to manually set up and constraint 500+ empties. There’s got to be a better way than this!?

Does anyone know a better way, or at least is there a script or addon that can automatically setup something like this?