Bracing for Scoliosis

The ultimate goal of bracing is to prevent the progression of the curve and thus minimize the likelihood of surgery.

Learning that you need a scoliosis brace to correct the curve of your spine is probably not what children want to hear.

“I know when I was told, I cried,” says Rachel. Curvy Girls Founder Leah adds, “Yes, I have been where you are, but I can tell you that you will get through this and this brace will not define who you are. However, how you react to it will help shape who you will become". Both advise, “You can stay strong through your scoliosis treatment with the help and support of others just like us.”

“I remember having so many questions when I was told I would need a brace. I also remember feeling like no one could understand my concerns and anxieties because they didn’t know what it felt like to be me. That is why I started Curvy Girls Scoliosis, a support network where kids in similar situations can share our experiences and solutions to problems that no one else understands. Together, we can share our journey through scoliosis treatment and honestly, knowing you are not alone makes all the difference.”

People have questioned the value of bracing in the treatment of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis but a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine1 has shown that bracing is effective and that the number of hours a brace is worn has a direct effect on its effectiveness and the prevention of surgery.

The Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Trial (BRAIST)1 was halted early, because of the overwhelming evidence of the superiority of the brace said lead author Stuart L. Weinstein. Ignacio V. Ponseti Chair and Professor, orthopedic surgery and professor, University of Iowa, Iowa City.

“The reason that I did this study was that the jury was still out as to whether braces work or not because the evidence wasn’t really of the highest level, and now I think it’s pretty clear that the jury is in, and that braces work.” Weinstein 20132

The study also found that ‘Bracing significantly decreased progression of high risk curves to the threshold for surgery and the benefit increased with longer hours of brace wear’1


Once the doctor has diagnosed your type of curve, its severity and determined that a brace is the best course of treatment they will also determine what type of brace and how many hours a day the brace needs to be worn.

The type of brace that you require will usually be one of the following: (click photo to see full picture)

brace1_thumb.jpgBoston Brace
This is the most commonly used type of ‘daytime’ Thoracic Lumbar Sacral Orthosis (TLSO) brace and is usually prescribed for 23 hours per day. Some doctors prescribe it for less hours per day, especially if it has a monitor and the doctor can determine how many hours a day the brace is actually being worn for.

Charleston Bending Brace
This is the most common type of ‘nighttime’ Thoracic Lumbar Sacral Orthosis (TLSO) brace and is worn just at night. This can only be used for certain types of curves and provides more significant counter forces to straighten the spine.

Milwaukee Brace
This is the most common type of Cervical Thoracic Lumbar Sacral Orthosis (CTLSO) brace and is worn by children who have curvatures higher up their spine.

(1) Weinstein et al, 2013, Effects of Bracing in Adolescents with Idiopathic Scoliosis. NEJM, Sept 2013.
(2) Anderson, P. 2013, Bracing avoids surgery for young patients with scoliosis. Medscape, September 19th 2013.