How a Scoliosis Brace is Made

This week, I want to show you, step-by-step, how a brace is made, using our recent experience at the National Scoliosis Center (NSC).  Not all braces are made this way, but, in my opinion, the best ones are! 🙂  And, it makes the experience much more fun for the children when they can take part in making their own brace!

First, detailed measurements are taken of the patient, including a full digital scan of the torso.

measurements
Measuring, measuring…by the way, that is NOT an EmBraced In Comfort tee – But, my picky patient changed into one, though, as soon as he could 🙂
checking-angles
Measuring rotational angle
scanning-2
Scanning the body with a scanning “gun”
scanning
It’s fun to see your body appear on-screen!

Next, the patient picks out a pattern from many exciting choices…

choosing-patterns
Picking out a pattern. Fun!

Then, the plastic is inserted into the oven and the tissue with the pattern is adhered…

the-oven
The plastic is hot and ready to come out of the oven
hot-plastic
Preparing to place the tissue on the hot plastic
applying-color
Pressing the pattern onto the hot plastic
peeling-color
Peeling the color application sheet from the hot plastic

Then, Luke and his associate, Michael, use a foam replica of the patient’s body (which was carved on a digital machine, using the digital scan they obtained earlier), and they lay the hot plastic on it. They work quickly to trim away the areas they will not need.

plaster-mold
A foam replica of the torso is created
teamwork-3
Laying the plastic on the mold
teamwork-2
Luke is always willing to do what it takes to make a great brace – even laying on the floor to complete a task!
teamwork-1
It takes two to trim the scrap off while the plastic is still hot. They work so well together!

Then, there’s this…

fun-with-plastic
Playing with some hot plastic scraps

Back to business now…Once the plastic cools, Luke tries it on the patient and makes marks where he intends to trim…

checking
Trying the brace on for first fitting
marking
Honing the details

Then, he uses a special trimming machine to cut the plastic off at his markings…

trimming
Trimming edges along the cut lines

Next come the rivets for the straps…

snaps-3
Riveting
snaps-2
Inserting rivets
snaps
Pressing the rivets into place

Then, Luke spends a lot of time smoothing the edges (not pictured)

And, more fittings and more fine-tuning…

heat-gun
Using a heat gun to work on uncomfortable parts
blow-torch
Using a handheld torch to soften some “pokey” parts

Finally, they get an in-brace X-ray in the very high-tech and rare EOS machine, which gives wonderful, 3-D images with extremely low radiation levels.  Very few facilities in the USA have an EOS machine, but National Scoliosis Center makes a point to have the healthiest and best technology for the patient…

eos
EOS x-ray machine! State of the art – nothing but the best at NSC!
before-and-after-2
The Left side is the in-brace EOS image, the right side is the pre-brace, regular x-ray image

In our case, even though we got great correction in-brace, Luke wanted to further hone under the right shoulder to help relax the right shoulder and bring it down to a more symmetrical level.

After the brace was finished, we went home to spend the night in it and then returned to the National Scoliosis Center in the morning to make sure that it was fitting just right!  Luke and his team can get your patient into a custom-fit brace in just under 2 days!!  Wow!

Although we stay with family when we visit the NSC, they do have excellent group rates at a nearby hotel AND are just blocks from a Metro station.  My son got measured for his brace first thing in the morning, then he and I hopped a train into DC, spent a few hours wandering around the city, then headed back and helped Luke create the brace – all in one day!  You can combine a trip to the NSC with some wonderful opportunities to explore our Nation’s Capital.

I tell parents over and over – you will not be disappointed with your results from NSC.  I will be sure to keep you all updated on my son’s results as we progress into the 6 month mark.

 

 

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