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Scoliosis Braces: Navigating The Differing Types

Educating yourself about the variety of approaches to scoliosis therapy and the available bracing treatments can be daunting.

From old theory, to new proven concepts…

Types of braces can be divided into two larger categories: soft and hard. The traditional TSLO (Thoraco-Lumbar-Sacral-Orthosis) hard braces were the first developed and it rely on plastic for the base structure. As treatments have evolved the types of braces have become more complex and some now also use a soft or elastic brace such as SpinCor (the theory behind this being that it will function better as part of the body.) Each brace has a unique set of benefits and downsides.

 Risser Brace, also known as the Risser Cast or Risser Jacket

This brace, or cast, was developed by Dr. Joseph Risser, a prominent surgeon during the early 1900’s. A hard shell would be formed out of plaster and be worn by the scoliosis patient at all times.

Milwaukee Brace 

This older style brace was developed during the 1940’s and used plastic and metal to span the entire length of the spine from neck to pelvis. It was most commonly used for post-surgery treatment.

Boston Brace

This is the most common and image3one identified with being the TSLO brace. Developed in 1972, it lacks the metal components of the Milwaukee brace and thus is much less noticeable under clothing. This brace is most commonly used with adolescents undergoing a non-surgical treatment plan. The challenge is that it doesn’t actually change or correct any curvature.  It may help to slow down the progression.

It basically just holds and compress’s the spine from moving, which unfortunately leads to muscle wasting and weakness due to the lack of motion. The patient has to be involved in significant exercise, multiple times, daily to help replenish what is lost while wearing the brace.


SpineCor (elastic) Brace

This system was developed following a research commission by the Canadian government in 1992. A set of 4 elastic bands is adjusted according to the curve in the spine. Results from this method vary. The challenges are obvious with bathroom breaks and considering most scoliosis patients are females who will develop monthly cycles.  While the brace has advantages of movement in sports and hiding under clothing well, it can be difficult to use the restroom and figure out the order of attaching all the straps each time mom (or dad) isn’t around to help the child.




scolibrace-slider-539x480 After the initial consultation and exam with a certified 3-D ScoliCare spine expert,

  • 3-D scan of the patient’s back is taken, along with digital X-Rays.
  • 3-D C.A.D. computer spine specialists develop a custom “Mirror-Imaged Brace”
  • 3-D Printed “Mirror-Image” brace is created to custom fit the patient.

The brace helps to assist the patient in optimal correction. This creates an individualized pattern for the 3-D Printed, USA-made braceback brace. The treatment is unique to the patient and custom tailored for their own back.

In most cases, an improvement is made both in the curvature and patient’s appearance.  **The patient and their family still have the responsibility of follow-through with the patient wearing the brace, exercising as recommended, and following through with potential physical therapy.


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0 Join the Conversation

  1. Kathy Mckellips says
    Jun 17, 2021 at 1:41 AM

    Actually the Milwaukee brace didn't go to plastic until 1973. Before that, it had a nickel bar up to the chin and two on back up to the base of the scull. The body was made of metal with horse and cow hide. I wore it for 2 years in high-school and then the last year they came out with the plastic. The older version was so terribly heavy, smelly and was so hot to wear for 23 hrs a day. I envy the patients that have the vest style now.

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