Top 10 Things to Know About Your Scoliosis Brace
Courtesy of Curvy Girls, Austin Chapter
1. YOU CAN DO THIS! There are so many other girls all over the world that are going through this as well so YOU ARE NOT ALONE! You are so much stronger than you think.
2. There is ONLINE SUPPORT. There are some great resources available for you AND your family including online forums. Check out curvygirlsscoliosis.com. Parents can join the closed Facebook Parent Support Group titled “Curvy Girls Scoliosis Parent Support Group”.
3. BOOK RESOURCES are plentiful but be careful. There are many out there that try to be helpful but remember that there is a lot of misinformation out there. The best that we have found is “Straight talk with the Curvy Girls” by Teresa Mulvaney and Robin Stoltz (founders of the Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group) and a realistic fiction book about a teen girl navigating middle school life with scoliosis called “Braced”.
4. SLEEPING DOES NOT HAVE TO BE MISERABLE. If you’ve been directed to wear your brace at night, sleeping can be quite a challenge. A few things that can make it easier is:
– a memory foam mattress topper (so the brace can sink into the pad without digging into your body). You can check out the Novaform topper at Costco starting at $99.00
– try a body pillow under your knees to help align your back and pelvis. These are conveniently found at Target at a reasonable price.
– put a 4×4 under the head of your bed frame to elevate the head of the bed slightly so that you’re not fully at the mercy of gravity.
5. WEAR THE RIGHT THINGS UNDER YOUR BRACE. Your orthotist will probably give you a long, cotton tank top that has high panels under the arms to protect your skin from the brace. Developed by Knit Rite, it provides more cushioning, moisture wicking and anti-microbial properties to keep skin dry, protected and comfortable. Other resources include: Boston Orthotics, Hope’s Closet or Sugarlips. All sell a version of seamless tanks that include variations on silver, cool max and lycra materials. Though the version at Sugarlips is more “normal”, be aware that it does not have an under-arm protectant and may lead to discomfort.
6. TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT YOUR BRACE. I know that this can probably be one of the most daunting tasks but keeping it a secret can cause even more stress. Your friends will probably surprise you with their interest about it and think it’s pretty cool! You will likely get some questions about your brace, especially if you decide to wear it on the outside of your clothes. Prepare yourself with a sentence or two that helps answer common questions about your brace. They can be as simple as “Oh, I wear a back brace for scoliosis because I have a curve in my spine and this helps keep it in line”. Sharing more of your story can often give you a bonding moment with your friends as most friends want to be there to support each other.
7. ADVOCATE FOR A 504 ACCOMMODATION PLAN. Telling your teachers about your scoliosis and brace will make a positive difference in providing what you need to feel more comfortable throughout the school day. Though you may initially think you’re able to function with no support or modifications at school, you may find that sitting in your brace on the floor, in a backless chair or taking the stairs becomes uncomfortable. Don’t feel afraid to talk to your teachers about your scoliosis. They will surprise you with how understanding they are.
In middle school, a 504 Plan is especially beneficial in providing extra help or accommodations such as:
– dress code permissions to wear leggings
– use of a chair during floor time
– assignment of an upper level locker
– allowance for a wheeled backpack
– extra time to change for PE activities (and/or an assigned friend to help with getting brace on and off)
– an elevator pass to avoid stairs
– permanent hall pass to the nurse for help in removing or strapping up the brace for PE or bathroom visits
8. D3 AND CALCIUM VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS. In general, research has supported the recommendation of 800 IU of Vitamin D3 and 600 mg of Calcium for bone growth. In addition, Melatonin is a natural hormone supplement that can help girls who are having difficulty sleeping. Research is also finding more information on how a deficit of Leptin can be an underlying factor in scoliosis and spinal growth.
9. ASK FOR A PHYSICAL THERAPY REFERRAL FOR SCHROTH THERAPY. Schroth Method is designed as a 3D non-surgical treatment for scoliosis that helps facilitate correction of the altered posture, teaches how to maintain corrected posture (neutral spine positioning) in daily living and breathing techniques. As of 04/2020, there are 5 therapists available in Austin and surrounding areas including:
Danielle Vernon, PT – Austin, TX
Sarah Luin – Central Tx Peds
Rebecca Hurst – Bryan, TX
Kelsey Baas – Waco, TX
Cori Reynolds – San Antonio
10. INQUIRE ABOUT XRAYS WITH AN EOS MACHINE. EOS machines are the newest technology in body scans that provide the least amount of radiation when scanning your in-brace and out-of-brace pictures every 6 months. A listing of EOS machines in Austin are located at St. David’s main hospital and Dell Children’s Medical Center. If using a traditional scan, request that you accompany your child to the Xray room and ask that she be shielded over her breasts and ovaries. Technicians have a scarf shield strip or Velcro strips that can be placed over these critical body tissues. In addition, a posterior-to-anterior directed Xray can reduce emissions more than an Anterior-to-Posterior view.
The Austin Curvy Girls support group meets the 2nd Sunday of each month from 2-4 pm. Locations often rotate so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lara 512-565-9419 or Erin at 512-970-1980 for more information or to join our group.