One of the oldest, most tried-and-tested methods of scoliosis treatment is bracing. This is where the scoliosis patient wears a brace around their torso to prevent the curve in their spine from getting worse as they grow.
There have been huge leaps forward in both the design and functionality of scoliosis braces since this approach was first tried, and modern scoliosis patients may wear all sorts of different braces depending on the nature of their condition.
The main difference between different types of scoliosis brace lies in the level of pressure that is applied to the wearer’s spine and ribs. Some braces must be worn on a full-time basis, whereas others need only be worn while sleeping.
Let’s take a closer look at the various scoliosis braces currently in use.
The most commonly-prescribed brace for scoliosis patients today is the Boston brace. This model was first developed in the early 1970s by Dr John Hall and Mr William Miller of The Boston Children’s Hospital (hence the name). It is a type of thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO), commonly referred to as ‘low-profile’ or ‘underarm’ braces.
Other models of the Boston brace exist, such as a CTLSO, which is a TLSO with a neck extension. These are used for high-degree curves located on the thoracic spine, but are generally used far less often.
The Boston brace is small in size, with plastic components that are custom-made to fit the wearer’s body exactly. At the front, the Boston brace starts just below the breast and extends all the way to the beginning of the pelvic area. At the back, it begins below the shoulder blades and continues all the way down to the tail bone of the spine – covering most of the torso.
The Boston brace works by applying pressure to the spine’s curve pattern in order to prevent further curvature. This forces the lumbar areas to ‘flex’, pushing in the abdomen and flattening the posterior lumbar curve.
The Wilmington brace is another common TLSO. However, unlike the Boston brace, the Wilmington brace is entirely custom-made for each wearer, based on a cast taken while they patient is lying down and facing upwards. Once the cast is produced, corrective forces specific to the wearer’s spinal curve are added to complete the brace.
The Wilmington brace is applied to the body in a similar fashion to a tight jacket and is known as a full-contact TLSO as a result of its lack of open spots and gaps.
The Milwaukee brace is the original cervico-thoracic-lumbar-sacral orthosis (CTLSO), prescribed to individuals who have been diagnosed with a high thoracic curve. This type of scoliosis brace has a distinctive design that is designed to manipulate the wearer’s full upper body. The Milwaukee brace extends from the pelvis all the way up to the neck and is made with a contoured plastic pelvic girdle and neck ring. These are connected with a metal bar in both the front and back of the brace.
These metal bars play a vital role in scoliosis correction, as they help the torso to extend while the neck ring keeps the wearer’s head in a central position over their pelvis. Pressure pads are strategically placed to the metal bars with straps, aligning to the shape of the wearer’s spinal curve.
First developed in 1945 by Dr Albert Schmidt and Dr Walter Blount of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Milwaukee Children’s Hospital, the Milwaukee brace is seen by many as the first modern scoliosis brace. Since its introduction, it has undergone a number of tweaks and improvements; however, the current design has been in use since 1975.
Charleston Bending Brace
The Charleston bending brace is the most commonly-prescribed night-time scoliosis brace. Just like the Wilmington brace, it is custom-fitted based on a cast taken of the patient’s torso. Once the case has set, corrective forces are added to the brace based on X-rays of the patient’s spine.
This Charleston bending brace is designed to be worn laying down, not while up and moving around. This allows the brace to apply greater forces and isn’t restricted by considerations for the head to remain balanced over the pelvis.
As well as applying lateral forces to push the spinal curve closer to the back’s midline, the Charleston bending brace also applies pressure to bend and hold the spine in an overcorrected position. This extreme position can be held much more easily at night, while laying down and sleeping, than during the day when the wearer is going about their daily activities.
The Providence brace applies the same hypercorrective force on the spine as the Charleston bending brace, which is only possible whilst laying down and sleeping at night. However, the main difference with this type of scoliosis brace is that, instead of the spine’s curve bending in the opposite direction, one shoulder is slightly elevated to apply lateral and rotational forces on the curve.
The Providence brace aims to push the curve toward the midline or even beyond in some cases.
The Gensingen brace was designed with a view to encouraging corrective movement instead of restricting movement like the braces we’ve already seen. It positions the wearer’s back in the opposite position to their spinal curve.
Read our blog about the Gensingen brace to learn more about this option.
Bracing tends to deliver better outcomes for scoliosis patients when combined with a specialised physiotherapy course. To find out more, read ‘Why Is It Important to Do Specialised Physiotherapy Alongside Wearing a Back Brace for Scoliosis?‘
Our Treatment Programme Book an Initial Consultation
Whether you’re applying for a job, sitting in an interview or getting ready for your first day, if you have a medical condition like scoliosis, you may be wondering whether you ought to let your employer know about it.
Read on to find out more about what you are – and aren’t – obliged to share with the people you work for. Please note that the information in this article pertains to UK law only – the law may be different where you live.
The Equality Act 2010 was passed to help protect jobseekers from discrimination. It forbids employers from asking questions about your health or sickness record before they offer you a job.
As a result of this legislation, you are not required to disclose any health information at either the application or interview stage. If your potential employer does ask any questions about your health and you are then turned down for the role, you may have grounds for unlawful discrimination.
On the other hand, disclosing information after you’ve received a job offer may be beneficial, as employers have to make reasonable adjustments for people who disclose health issues that are protected under the aforementioned Equality Act.
The application process
When you’re applying for jobs, you do not need to mention any illnesses or disabilities on your CV, even if they were the reason you left a previous role. If your medical conditions have created gaps in your employment history, there are ways that you can fill these in with activities such as periods of study, working on your own projects, or temp work.
However, if medical conditions have contributed to extensive or repeated gaps in your resumé, you may wish to omit employment dates from your CV altogether and replace them with the length of time you worked within each role.
During your interview, you can decide how much you wish to say about your medical condition(s). If you do have any noticeable gaps in your work history, prepare an explanation that doesn’t disclose any health issues. You can use ‘personal reasons’ as justification for leaving a role, but make sure these are framed in a positive way that matches what you’re now applying for.
Focus on why you want the role and how your skills and abilities will enable you to make a meaningful contribution.
FURTHER READING: Can You Work with Scoliosis?
If you feel that your scoliosis is preventing you from following your preferred career path, the Scoliosis SOS Clinic may be able to help. Get in touch to arrange a consultation.
Our Treatment Courses Book an Initial Consultation
For many people with scoliosis, back pain and spinal discomfort are a constant nuisance throughout the day, even when sitting down. This can be especially problematic when you’re in work – it’s hard to get things done when you’re struggling to find a comfortable sitting position!
Office chairs for people with scoliosis
Most office-based jobs require you to be sat at your desk for hours at a time, staring at a screen that’s two feet in front of you and typing away at a keyboard – hardly the ideal seating scenario for someone with scoliosis.
In fact, according to workplaceinsight.net, an astounding 81% of us spend 4 to 9 hours a day sitting at our desks. To put that into context, that’s about as much time as most of us spend asleep at night.
Sitting at your desk, locked in the same position hour after hour can lead to stiffness and soreness even if your spine is straight – let alone if you’re already coping with scoliosis. Luckily, there are lots of ergonomic office chairs available for a range of budgets.
What’s the best office chair for someone with scoliosis?
The iconic Aeron chair by Herman Miller is a good place to start.
Known globally as “America’s best-selling office chair”, this classic desk chair has become so well-established since its invention in ’92 that it’s now featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.
Updated to meet the demands of the 21st century worker, the Aeron of today features “stronger and smarter materials, better adjustment capabilities, intuitive controls, enhanced aeration, and a health-positive, more comfortable sit”.
That being said, such ample spinal support doesn’t come cheap – the Aeron typically retails at around the £1,000 mark. Even if you’re buying second-hand, it’s not unusual for this chair to fetch around £500.
For a worthy substitute, the HÅG SoFi range is another great solution to your office woes and clocks in at around £700. With padded lumbar support, arm/foot/head rests and a variety of customisable features, it’s a great alternative to the pricier Aeron.
Affordable scoliosis chairs for the office
For a more economical office solution that won’t empty the rainy day fund, the Murray and Isaac ranges from John Lewis are also effective in terms of ergonomic support.
Retailing within the more reasonable £250 to £300 range, these seats feature form-comforting mesh, adjustable armrests and lumbar support, with the Isaac model also boasting a neck support for additional posture alignment.
However, if this still seems a little out of your price range, there are still plenty of other cost-effective solutions to be found online, while your local furniture shop may also have a variety of options in store to try out.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when searching for your perfect chair:
- Look for high-back chairs with a posture curved seat
- Adjustable arm rests and neck rests are also ideal features that can help increase comfort and relieve spinal stress
- Additional lumbar support can also be provided with a supplemental aid if necessary
Specialist scoliosis chairs
While the ergonomic office chairs listed above may be suitable for those with mild scoliosis, specialist seating products may be the best choice for those with extreme / severe cases of spinal curvature.
From directed positioning of the pelvis to the use of neck and lateral supports, specialist seating can actively contribute to easing the pain of scoliosis.
Designed to reduce slumping, minimise neck flexion and promote a neutral midline from head to pelvis, specialist scoliosis chairs offer a variety of spine-straightening perks that are not found in standard seating products.
Some specialist chairs also feature “tilt-in-space” functionality, providing adjustable seat positioning to alleviate gravitational discomfort. Also known as “power tilt”, this function allows the chair to achieve a recline of up to 60 degrees while keeping your hips and knees at 90-degree angles.
One great example of a specialist office chair for people with scoliosis is the DuoBack from Rohde & Grahl. This product is well worth exploring for any office worker who frequently feels the strain of scoliosis at work.
Here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer ergonomic assessments and postural seating advice to all patients as part of our comprehensive specialist treatment programmes. Call 0207 488 4428 or fill out our online enquiry form to discuss your condition further.
Read More: Coping with Scoliosis When You Work at a Desk
Non-Surgical Scoliosis Treatment from Scoliosis SOS >>
Image courtesy of Pexels
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we’ve seen first-hand what a huge impact scoliosis can have people’s lives.
That’s why it makes us so happy whenever we learn that our non-surgical treatment has helped someone to overcome their spinal curve and live life as they wish.
If you’ve got dreams of living life outdoors, but you’re concerned that scoliosis will keep you from realising those dreams, we hope you’ll take encouragement from some of our success stories:
Emily Harman, Scuba Diver
“I feel like a new person. My back is straighter and I feel like I look normal…I’m going on as many scuba diving holidays as I can fit in!”
Read Emily’s Story >
Katie Brixton, Sailor
“I feel like I am back in control and I am getting used to being able to sail again without pain. It really is amazing the work that takes place in those treatment rooms.”
Read Katie’s Story >
Ken Higgbert, Golfer
“I feel I have been reborn and I am definitely going to live every day to the full. People take their health for granted but I definitely won’t.”
Read Ken’s Story >
Timothy Cart, Climber
“Once I started to read about what the exercises involved and how they worked I was even more excited. For the first time since my diagnosis, I could see an end to all the back pain I was suffering.”
Read Timothy’s Story >
Ronan Hogan, Go-Karting
“I just feel so relieved – there are no words to describe how grateful I am to the SOS team. They worked so hard at getting my back sorted. I don’t think I was a very easy case but they have made such a difference to my life.”
Read Ronan’s Story >
If your scoliosis is preventing you from taking part in your favourite outdoor activities, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to find out how we can help you. Call 0207 488 4428 to speak to one of our expert Patient Care Coordinators, or use the links below to find out more.
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Most cases of scoliosis develop when the patient is between 10 and 15 years old. While the spine’s curvature may be relatively mild to begin with, it can continue to get worse over the years that follow.
Currently, scoliosis tests are not compulsory in UK schools, but you can still check whether your child has scoliosis yourself. The Adams forward bending test is relatively easy to perform, but if you do think your child has scoliosis, you should get a second opinion from a GP.
Helping Your Child Cope with Scoliosis in School
School can be a stressful time for young children and teenagers alike, with friends, teachers and parents all contributing to the pressure in their own ways. A curved spine can make the average school day even more challenging – pupils with scoliosis might find sitting down or standing up for long periods uncomfortable, plus they might feel insecure about their appearance.
Here are a few suggestions that might make coping with scoliosis in school a little easier.
Start by speaking to your child to find out what issues their scoliosis is causing them at school. If you can establish an open line of conversation with your child, you’ll be more likely to know right away if something’s wrong.
Encourage your child to discuss their condition with their classmates so that they can understand what is going on and offer their support. Many of our patients have given in-class presentations about their treatment experiences, giving their peers an opportunity to learn about scoliosis and ask questions in a safe, relaxed environment.
Speak to Staff Members
Notify teachers about your child’s condition. They might make allowances for your child to move around during lessons. PE teachers, in particular, might be able to make tweaks to their lesson plan so that your child’s condition can be handled discreetly during PE lessons.
If your child says that their scoliosis is causing them pain while they’re at school, speak to your GP about pain relief. The doctor may be able to provide medication to help your child get through each school day comfortably. Also, where possible, make sure your child has comfortable shoes, feels comfortable in their uniform, and periodically ask them if their pain has got worse. If so, it might be time to pursue scoliosis treatment.
If your child is embarrassed about wearing a scoliosis brace to school, or if the prospect of scoliosis surgery is too frightening, we encourage you to explore the exercise-based treatment options that we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. Always inspire and allow time for your child to do exercises to improve their scoliosis after school.
We’ve helped lots of children and young adults to improve their curved spines. Call 0207 488 4428 to speak to one of our expert Patient Care Coordinators, or use the links below to find out more!
Before & After Photos Book a Consultation