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Why do some curves need a brace?
Bracing is only necessary in young patients whose spines are still growing, as there is a good chance that larger curves could still increase. If the curve gets bigger, usually a range of 20 to 40 degrees, our specialists may decide your child needs to wear a brace. Braces usually slow down curve progression or stop the curve from getting worse. Historically, bracing has been controversial regarding its benefit & likelihood of keeping the curve from progressing. In 2013 the BrAIST study demonstrated that bracing is effective for most curves.
My child needs a brace. What do we do next?
Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has on-site specialists and works with local experts (orthotists) who make scoliosis braces. Braces aren't any higher than the upper torso, so they can be hidden under most clothing. Patients usually can remove the brace a few of hours a day for sports and other activities. Sometimes the brace may only be worn at night, but that depends on the size and location of the curve. It often takes five to six weeks from the time of the brace order place until the brace is ready, because the braces are custom made to fit your child’s shape.
The goal of the braces are to:
- Keep the curve from getting bigger;
- Reduce the child’s curve in brace by as much as possible, usually down to ½ of the original curve;
- Provide a comfortable brace the child can tolerate once weaned into;
- Continue to allow the child/teen to live their normal life.
What types of braces are there?
There are many types of braces in scoliosis. Bracing is used in the young who still have spine growth left, curves over 25 degrees or curves progressing. At Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, we use all varieties of bracing available, customized specifically for your child's curve pattern.
Full time brace: This brace works best for curves over 25 degrees and curves that are the classic "S" shape or higher in the spine. This is a hard shell brace custom made by an orthotist. The brace is worn full time but taken off for bathing, swimming, sports, and gym class.
Nighttime hypercorrection brace: This brace is worn at night as it bends the child to the side, making walking difficult. It works best for smaller curves under 35 degrees that are in the lower spine.
How can I support my child in a brace?
How do I handle wearing a brace to school? What are some good fashion tips to go along with my brace? How do I talk to my friends about scoliosis? Medical experts can tell your child a lot about dealing with scoliosis, but sometimes it’s best to hear from people who are going through it themselves. That's where our patient forums come in. Led by our registered nurses and orthotists, these forums meet regularly and are a place where children can get some real advice on how to make sure scoliosis doesn’t overtake their lives. Children's offers forums that address bracing, with a wide range of experts available to answer questions, and also patients who can answer questions and share their experiences
Scoliosis Brace Forum Group Meetings
Scoliosis Brace Support Group meetings take place in April and October. These meetings are designed to offer support, answer questions and help relieve anxiety and stress related to wearing a scoliosis back brace for the patient and families. These meetings take place on a Thursday evening around dinner, and pizza is served.
In these groups, we discuss fashion concerns, bullying issues, how to get your child to wear the brace for 20-23 hours a day, treatment questions, and much more. The meeting is designed to answer your specific concerns. At about the half-hour point we switch out our brace wearers and have them join the other group.