What is a spine brace for scoliosis?
Spine braces are the most common nonsurgical option for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis—a condition in which the spine curves more than usual during a young teen’s major growth spurt. While there are different styles and types of braces, all of them are custom fitted to your child. Wearing a brace can help slow the progression of—and in some cases, correct—a spinal curve.
Using an expertly-made brace designed by an experienced orthotist gives your child the best odds of avoiding surgery in the future. Children’s Mercy partners with the Hanger Clinic to provide an in-house orthotist if you would like to coordinate your brace appointments with your medical appointments.
How does the brace work?
A spine brace works by using gentle pressure in key places on the torso to bring the spine back towards alignment. Wearing the brace, sometimes together with physical therapy exercises to strengthen the muscles and expand the lungs, helps your child’s body to prevent a spinal curve from progressing and, in many cases, decrease the degree of curvature.
Braces are designed to be worn under clothing, with a specially designed seamless body sock made of coolmax material, thin shirt or tank top underneath. If your doctor recommends full-time usage, this can mean up to 16-20 hours each day in the brace. While this is an adjustment, most kids find that eventually, they become comfortable wearing the brace at home, school, and overnight. Usually, kids can remove the brace during bathing, swimming, sports and PE, or simply to take a break from it for a little while each day.
Finding the best fit for the brace
Your orthotist is the person who will design and build the actual brace for you. It’s their job to make sure you get the best fit so you have the most potential to benefit from your device. But progress improves significantly when kids closely follow their doctor’s instructions for wearing the brace.
Your child’s provider may recommend a compliance monitor in the brace to help them track your usage between visits.