A back brace
is a device designed to limit the motion of the spine
in cases of fracture
or in post-operative fusions. Limiting the motion of the spine enhances the healing process and minimizes the patient's discomfort.
Common brack braces include:
- Rigid braces : These braces are form-fitting plastic molds that restrict motion by as much as 50%; and
- Corset braces : Elastic braces that limit forward motion of the spine and assist in setting spinal fusions or supporting the spine during occasions of stress (for example, employment requiring the lifting of heavy loads).
Bracing for scoliosis
Back braces are also commonly prescribed to treat adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, as they may stop the progression of spinal curvature in a growing child.
There are several types of back braces commonly used to treat adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Each of these braces is a rigid brace that works by putting pressure on an existing curvature to prevent its progression. Some of these devices are custom measured or cast by an orthotist or within a clinical team. Normally some type of protective layer, such as a tank top or white T-shirt, are worn underneath the brace to prevent blistering and skin burns.
- The most commonly used brace is the Boston, made of molded plastic and generally worn under clothing. The brace can be removed for sport activities but is typically worn at all other times.
- The Cervico-Thoraco-Lumbo-Sacral Orthosis brace (also known as a Milwaukee brace) is similar to the Boston brace in construction and use. It includes a neck ring attached to the body of the brace to support the cervical spine.
- The Charleston brace is worn while sleeping. This brace is typically molded to a patient bent to the side, which increases the pressure on the curvature. Studies have shown that the Charleston nighttime brace is as effective in 8 hours as the others are in 23 hours. To be effective, the existing curvature must be in the 20 to 40 degree range and the apex of the curve needs to be below the level of the shoulder blade.
- The SpineCor brace is worn 20 hours a day. This brace is flexible and allows freedom of movement, and is less noticeable under clothing. Wearing a bodysuit is recommended. Treatment range of the brace is the Cobb angle of between 15 and 50 degrees. The brace is a new design, but a study showed positive results in a two-year follow up. The brace is not meant for patients with a Risser above 3.
- The SPoRT is a solid brace with large weeping pads("drives") to facilitate elongation, and "stops" to prevent the patient from moving incorrectly in relation to the curve. A principal advantage of this brace is that it does not limit limb movement. It is usually worn 23 hours a day.
- The Cheneau brace is used mostly with the Schroth Method of scoliosis rehabiliation. The "shell" is padded with large, sweeping pads, and there are spaces that are "bumped" out for patient movement. A modified version, the "Lite Cheneau" has spaces instead of the "bumped" sections.