Oh the fun of having a plastic brace around your torso! As it is now summer (I think...I don’t really follow the exact dates of when a season. It definitely feels like summer over here…), I have definitely been more aware of my brace.
The only friend I ever had with scoliosis, was in elementary school (I moved, and we grew apart, so i’ve fallen out of touch with her :/). She, unlike me, only wore a brace to sleep (the Charleston brace), and I admit, I was jealous when I would see her doing cartwheels and running around at school, because I didn’t have that luxury with my Boston brace. Gosh, I remember being so mad at my parents. I got home from school one day and yelled at my mom for making me where a brace all day. Not my best moment. It turned out that the Boston brace was the right pick for my curve...I just recently got confirmation that I won’t have to have spinal fusion therapy (look out for an article about that news coming up!). But it did get me thinking about other types of braces.
Here is a list of the different types of braces and I tried to give a good description of them...I’ve only ever worn one brace, so I can’t provide a great personal experience with any brace aside from the Boston brace, but I tried my best to research as much as I could. Little disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, so of course, if you are looking at braces, you should talk to your doctor...this article is just meant to give you a gist. Good luck in finding the right brace for you...and remember, we’re bent, not broken! :)
Boston Brace My homie! Fun fact: Boston is my favorite big city...I love everything about it. If you’re ever there, you have to go on one of the duck bus tours: the tour guides are AMAZING. My companion of a decade now...what a journey it has been. The Boston Brace is the brace I’ve always used. My plastic bud is quite popular...it is the most commonly used brace to treat scoliosis today. It can be lined with padding to accommodate for your curves, which makes it practically universal and has a posterior opening. You can read more about the Boston Brace here.
Milwaukee Brace The Milwaukee Brace: another travel destination...what is it with the medical field naming so many things after places? This brace is a lower back brace that includes a neck ring held in place by vertical bars attached to the body of the brace. This brace is rarely used to treat scoliosis anymore. You can read more about the Milwaukee Brace here.
Wilmington Brace The Wilmington Brace is custom fitted based on a cast of patients lying down. Another fun fact: the closest I came to breaking a bone was when my friend dropped a 15 pound bowling ball on my foot by accident on the last day of school. But I didn’t even get a cast! Only a boot :(. The fit of this brace is similar to a tight jacket. You can read more about the Wilmington Brace here.
Charleston Bending Brace Ah the brace I punished my parents for not getting me. The Charleston Bending Brace is only worn at night. It is meant to allow for people, especially adolescents to be able to go to school without a brace to prevent any negative body image issues that kids could have about wearing a brace. Most doctors consider the Charleston Bending Brace to be effective only in specific and limited situations. You can read more about the Charleston Bending Brace here.
Providence Brace The Providence Brace (Another place? On a side note, you know what’s in Providence? Brown University. And you know who went to Brown? Emma Watson a.k.a. Hermione. I always find a way to make a connection to Harry Potter, I know.) is similar to the Charleston Bending Brace in that it is only worn at night. The Providence Brace elevates on shoulder and applies forces to improve the curve. You can read more about the Providence Brace here.
Other Braces There are many other braces in the market. Most of these braces are newer, so there is not as much data available regarding their long-term effectiveness. Many of these braces, such as the SpineCor brace, use more flexible material, such as velcro and stretchy bands to allow for greater movement while wearing the brace. Sounds cool to me...hopefully, if these braces are successful, this will mean more flexibility for scoliosis patients in the future!
I wish I could say that I'm into STEM and that you could expect me to be enrolled in MIT and find the cure to cancer, but there's no denying that I SUCK at anything numbers. Trust me, I've tried everything - I must've watched at least 100 Khan Academy videos, but honestly, I don't see the point. I guess I'm just one of those people that values quality over quantity. Life isn't just valued by the number of days you lived or the amount of money you made...it is about the memories you make and leave behind. Just like life, scoliosis is not just numbers - it’s the hours spent wearing a brace, the days of recovery from surgery, and the lessons learned from an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Scoliosis cannot be encapsulated by a 9-letter word and a one sentence definition - it is an experience. But, scoliosis lifestyle aside, here's a breakdown of scoliosis, root by root.
an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine.
from the Greek word skolíōsis a bending
Scoliosis is hard to define, and while our spines might be "abnormally curved", it's important to remember that we are bent, not broken! :)