Sunday, February 14, 2010

The brace

Last Monday my girlie got her back brace for scoliosis. It's already become a fact of our everyday lives and not such a big deal. So far.

The brace is a plastic, foam, and velcro strap contraption, as my mom might have said, called a "Boston brace" for the company that makes it. She will wear it for 4 years or so, till her growth stops. Actually she'll wear several as we expect her to grow. The orthotist said we should be able to go 9 months to a year before needing a new one.

The fitting appointment was long and tedious. The orthotist put the brace on, did some measuring and marking, then took it off and away to cut some off. That happened two or three times. Once it fit properly he added the pads that will push on the spine. There is no real expectation that the spine will straighten; the object is to keep the curve from increasing. I suppose it's s possible that it will improve; I've heard stories of improvement but so far there is no medical reason to expect it.

The sound of the saw, and the smell of the glue was a little disconcerting. But soon it was all done and she was encased; I was instructed in how to strap her in (with marks on the velcro to show me when it's tight enough). Off we went, with instructions to get an x-ray in 1 month to be sure everything is pressing where it should be. This is a contradiction to the orthopaedist's instruction to have it in 6 months. I hate that: I want my healthcare professionals to be in agreement. And it make sense to me to check within 1 month rather than 6. We'll see what the doctor says in a few weeks. And the insurance company!

But for now we're working on getting adjusted. I was told that the first night of sleeping would be bad. Horrible. Impossible. But it was fine; she slept well. She is up to 21 hours a day in the brace; the recommendation is 23 hours with the admission that most kids get about 16. Obviously, the more the better.

Because we've had some bad weather and have been staying home, today was the first day she wore the brace around nonfamily members. Her good friend at church already knew about it so that was easy. So far no one has bumped her and noticed her hard shell, but she is prepped with what to say when that happens. Oh, all her current clothing fits fine over it. It's a lot slimmer than we expected it to be.

The worst part so far is also the hardest to describe on the internet. (One must be aware of possible google searches.) The special t-shirt to wear under the brace looks hot and uncomfortable and costs $40. Since it has to be changed at least twice a day, and laundered after each wearing... that's a considerable cost. We don't want to be cheap about this, of course. But it's hard to drop a couple hundred bucks on that type of garment. We're trying other off-the-shelf shirts but so far everything is inadequate, and all my research tells me that this is a common and unsolvable dilemma. There is no perfect solution. Hot, humid summers might be really hard.

She noticed something funny while wearing some slim jeans and looking at her back in the mirror. I don't want to publish the word she gave it but if you have any Playmobil figures around, go get one and bend it forward at the waist (which is, I guess, the only place you can bend a Playmobil figure) and look at it from behind. That approximates the look. Hilarity ensues whenever one of us notices it.

Which is the proper response, I guess: hilarity. Laughter. Making the best of it. It could be a lot worse.


DADvocate said...

Best of luck to your daughter. Waaayyy back in the early Sixties when I was in grade school a girl in my class got a back brace for the same reason. Her's was a metal device that protruded above the collar of her blouse, and, if I remeber correctly, pushed up on her chin and the back of her head. It looked extremely uncomfortable.

Despite improvements, I'm sure your daughter will find wearing the brace a challenge. I hope she's able to bear thru it without to much trauma.

Marbel said...


HomeGrownKids said...

My daughter (the athlete) wears some performance undergarments that she LOVES! They are so comfortable. They are cool in summer and warm in winter... they also help with circulation, etc.

maybe these would be a good fit for your daughter- there are a few different brands but they're pretty much called 'skins' compression garments.
is an example of what i'm talking about.

yes they are expensive but well worth it for sport... so it got me thinking of E so thought I'd come here and post :)