What does a scoliosis brace look like? Horton’s visual guide can help explain the differences between each type of scoliosis brace.
A scoliosis brace is not always necessary to correct curving spines, but many orthopedic doctors prescribe them to impede the growth of spinal curves in adolescents. Bracing is usually recommended as a midway point between simple observation and surgical intervention if at least one of the following situations applies:
The patient is young enough that the curve can be corrected as they grow.
The curve has grown by more than 5 degreessince a previous measurement.
The curve is at the 20 to 40 degreemark.
Wearing the brace gives the patient the best treatment to avoid surgery.
Additional medical conditions, combined with the scoliosis diagnosis, indicate the need for special protection.
Also known as an underarm brace or TLSO (Thoraco-Lumbo-Sacral-Orthosis),a Boston brace is made of plastic and extends from the patient’s shoulders to their tailbone in the back and from under the chest to the pelvis in front. It is more streamlined than other scoliosis braces, making it a good choice for wearing under clothing. Because of its design and the materials used, a Boston scoliosis brace is easily custom-made for each patient. A series of alternating pressure pads and convex spaces—designated along the spine’s curvature—are designed to provide three-point pressure. This system combats mid-to-low and low-back scoliosis issues. A Boston brace is described as a “23 hour” device, meaning that it can be worn while sleeping and during normal activity, yet taken off to play sports, swim, or bathe.
Wilmington Scoliosis Brace
A total contact TLSO (pictured here), or body jacket, is made to surround most of the torso and like the Boston brace, it can be worn up to 23 hours a day. The Wilmington scoliosis brace has a front opening and adjustable straps to make the brace easy to remove for sports and other activities. This type of scoliosis brace is fabricated based on a fiberglass cast of the patient’s body. The inner core of the brace is essentially a corrective mold of the patient’s spine that applies counteractive force while it is worn.
Charleston Scoliosis Brace
The Charleston scoliosis brace is also known as a bending brace, or a part-time brace, because it is generally worn only while sleeping. Although it is shaped much like the Boston brace, the Charleston brace is asymmetrical—higher on one side—so that it “overcorrects” the curvature while the patient is asleep. A Charleston brace is usually made of softer material rather than the rigid plastic of other scoliosis braces. This device is best worn by scoliosis patients who have a 20 to 40 degree curvature that starts below the shoulder area. In order to mold a Charleston brace for maximum efficiency,measurements are taken when the patient is bending toward the bulge of the curve.
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