"I have included this section because I feel it is important that people have the opportunity to become aware and informed about bracing and to understand that when one makes a decision it is vital to research the problems as well as the benefits of a chosen treatment. Unfortunately orthotists always make known the benefits, but will not divulge the risks unless closely questioned. Therefore I have compiled this article on research I have undertaken myself from various reliable medical sources."
Most children are put in a brace at 10 or 11 - this commits the child and their family to 6 or 7 years of bracing, which to anyone's mind is quite a formidable prospect.
A brace is not a natural form of treatment by a long way, but some are more unnatural than others. For instance the Boston and Milwaukee bracing involves a plastic and polystyrene corset being worn for 23 hours a day - during the treatment period. Bracing of this kind damages the body in some form or other - despite the fact that all orthotists will deny it.
The only time Boston and Milwaukee bracing could be necessary and beneficial, is during the night when it is not possible to be aware of one's posture. However to encase a body in a corset for 23 hours a day is both mentally and physically damaging.
Mentally it is damaging as it is worn during teenage years when appearance is at its most important and it prevents one from wearing most teenage fashion clothes, which would not hide the brace. They can often be a great source of embarrassment and shame and patients often refuse to wear them because they are afraid they will be teased by their peers.
Physically it is damaging because it is done-up so tightly, under the pretence of holding the curve, the brace is in fact weakening the muscles all around the back, so that once the bracing is eventually stopped there are no strong muscles to hold and support the back. The curvature immediately becomes a lot worse in a short space of time, due to this lack of support and ends up requiring more serious treatment (usually an operation) being needed.
A brace also restricts breathing and decreases lung capacity, it also prohibits 'deep' breathing and instead a patient has to start 'shallow' breathing - which is bad news if you play a wind or brass instrument. It also restricts movement, and is impossible to play sports in. After sitting still for more than 40 minutes it stops the blood circulating properly and causes numbing and pricking.
So for a lot of cases, especially where the patient is growing fast, bracing is not the best and by no means the most pleasant course of treatment for a patient.