Scoliosis makes a person's spine curve from side to side. Curves can get worse as you grow, and may cause health problems. So health care providers sometimes suggest teens wear a brace while they're growing.
What Is a Scoliosis Brace?
A scoliosis brace is a stiff plastic jacket that fits around the torso, from underneath the arms down to the hips. It has straps to keep it in place and straighten the spine.
A brace is also called an orthotic or orthosis. There are different types. An works with you to choose the right one. The right brace is the one that works best for the kind of curve you have, but it's also the one you're most likely to wear.
Why Is Bracing Done?
Wearing a brace is often the first step if you need treatment for scoliosis. Doctors prescribe the brace hoping it will stop your curve from getting worse and help you avoid spinal fusion surgery.
How to Wear Your Wilmington Brace
There are lots of different braces for scoliosis. Some close in the front, others close in the back. This slideshow gives steps on how to put on a Wilmington brace.
What the Wilmington Brace Does
A Wilmington brace stops moderate curves in the middle and lower spine from getting worse. Your orthopedist will tell you how many hours a day you should wear it.
Start With an Undershirt
Wear a tight-fitting, seamless shirt under the brace. This protects your skin and helps with sweat. Make sure your skin is dry before putting on the undershirt. Smooth out the shirt so there are no wrinkles.
Put on the Brace
The brace is made of flexible plastic so it's easy to open. Separate the edges of the brace at the opening and place it loosely around you.
Position the Brace
When the brace is around you, lie down and position your body correctly in the brace. Pull the straps through the buckles, starting at the bottom.
Close the Straps
Your orthopedist made marks on the straps so you know where to close them. Pull each strap through the buckle until the buckle lines up with the mark on the strap. Lock the buckle in place.
Check the Fit
Your Wilmington brace is molded to fit your body. Because it is custom made, it adjusts the spine in a way that's exactly right for you. Make sure the brace is correctly in place before getting dressed.
The Wilmington brace is worn under regular clothes. Some people find that looser fitting tops, like sweatshirts, are most comfortable. You may need to buy clothes in a size larger than you normally wear.
You're Ready to Go!
You'll quickly get used to putting on your new brace. To keep it clean, wipe it once a week with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. Other than that, your brace doesn't need any special care.