In recognition of National Spine Health Awareness Month, this article aims to provide educational information and helpful tips on how to wear and care for a scoliosis brace.
An orthopedic doctor can prescribe a brace for a variety of conditions, namely to treat scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.
While idiopathic scoliosis is a common spinal condition found in children, only a small percentage, about 30 percent, of those diagnosed require braces.
Why do I need to wear a brace?
During growth, scoliosis can quickly worsen. A scoliosis brace prevents the spine from curving more as the child grows to avoid any future surgery.
How long do I have to wear a brace?
Based on your spinal curvature and age of onset, your doctor will specify how many hours a day you should wear a brace and work with you to find an optimal wearing routine.
At first, a patient can gradually increase the daily time wearing the brace. For effective brace treatment, a patient may need to wear their brace for up to 23 hours a day until growth stops. As the child grows, he will spend less time using it and will no longer need it once he is mature. When used as directed, braces have been known to stop curve progression in about 80 percent of children with scoliosis.
Wearing your brace as directed by your doctor will ensure that it works as intended, which typically requires many hours of daily wear. With a rigid support that usually wraps around the torso, you need to know how to stay comfortable throughout the day. In the same way, the care of your orthopedic device is essential to keep it in good condition, so that it is as effective as possible.
Below are some tips for wearing and caring for your brace.
Wearing a Back Brace
Ask a friend or family member to help you put on and take off your brace.
Always wear the brace as prescribed and make sure it is tight enough, as a loose brace can cause friction and irritation.
Wear a shirt under the corset that is clean, cotton, tight-fitting, and extends past the hips to avoid skin irritation.
Keep your skin clean by washing the skin under the brace every day.
Protect your skin from redness and blistering by hardening it with isopropyl alcohol. Apply isopropyl alcohol with your hands to the areas of skin that are pressed by the brace. (It will take about 2-3 weeks to harden.) Use cornstarch as a substitute for alcohol-sensitive skin.
Wear loose clothing over the brace.
Stay in cool places in hot weather.
Stay positive! Orthotics improve spinal health and reduce back problems in the future.
Caring for a back brace
Clean your brace with soap and water every day and dry it.
Clean with isopropyl alcohol once a week.
Check for wear.
When to contact your doctor/specialist
If you notice raw skin, sores, or pain caused by friction from the brace, you may need to adjust it. The straps will also wear out over time and need to be replaced, which your orthopedist can do quickly. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to call your doctor or orthopedist.
Custom Bracing with Kickstart O&P
If you or your child is diagnosed with scoliosis, a doctor may prescribe a custom-made brace to slow the progression of spinal curvature.
Here at Kickstart, our certified orthotist/prosthetist will work with you and your doctor to develop and carry out a treatment plan, providing a specially designed orthotic device for you.
If you would like to schedule an appointment or consultation at Kickstart, please call (510) 996-4200 or complete our Request More Information page.
Nsf. “BRACING FOR ADOLESCENT IDIOPATHIC SCOLIOSIS.” National Scoliosis Foundation, 22 June 2015, www.scoliosis.org/bracing-for-adolescent-idiopathic-scoliosis/.
Nsf. “DONATE.” National Scoliosis Foundation, www.scoliosis.org/.
“Patient Guide to Scoliosis Bracing.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns-hopkins-childrens-center/what-we-treat/specialties/orthopaedics/_documents/Patient-guide-scoliosis-bracing.pdf .
“Scoliosis.” AANS, www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Scoliosis.
“Using Your 2-Piece TLSO (Brace) at Home.” UW Health, www.uwhealth.org/healthfacts/orthopedics/5390.pdf.
“Wearing and Caring for Your Back Brace.” Spine INA, 20 Nov. 2019, spineina.com/blog/wearing-and-caring-for-your-back-brace/.