What is a Boston Brace?

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  • Written By: SMathis
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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A Boston Brace is a non-surgical device used to assist in the correction of idiopathic scoliosis, better known as curvature of the spine. The purpose of the brace is to keep the spinal curvature from worsening as a child grows. Scoliosis is most common in children that are 10 to 15 years old, and it affects girls more often than boys. Approximately five out of every 1,000 American children, as well as five out of every 5,000 children worldwide, are fitted with the brace each year.

The purpose of using a Boston Brace is to control back pain, offer a method to prevent increased spinal deformity, and immobilize the spine to assist in stabilizing weak and injured portions of the spine. It is the most popular thoracic lumbar sacral orthosis (TLSO) brace used worldwide for scoliosis. The brace was developed at Children’s Hospital Boston in the 1970s.

Generally, Boston Brace body jackets are symmetrical and come in standard sizes; they also can be custom fitted if required. Each brace is made from a type of thermoplastic material that is lined with polyethylene foam. It corrects spinal curvatures by using pads inside the brace to place small amounts of pressure on the ribs. This moves the body forward in the brace and holds it upright, thus keeping the spinal curvature from increasing. It usually opens in the back and extends from the shoulder blades to the pelvis.


In order for a Boston Brace to be successful, the treatment plan usually must be followed. This typically will include keeping all appointments with the orthopedist, orthotists, physical therapist, and will require completion of exercises daily. A successful treatment plan also typically includes wearing the Boston brace for 22 to 23 hours a day.

The patient typically will need to wear tight-fitting t-shirts under the brace to keep skin from chafing. A child can walk and sit in a chair while wearing the brace. If a child is having difficulty adjusting to the brace, it can be important to take time to explain the importance of wearing the brace. Almost all children between the ages of 10 and 18 may feel varying degrees of stress, shame, anger, fear, and denial in respect to wearing a Boston Brace. Once the initial adjustment period is over, most children adjust to it without difficulty.


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Post 3

@turquoise-- It can be a little strange to sleep in at first, but one gets used to it after a couple of nights.

I had to loosen it a little bit for the first couple of nights to get used to it but it was fine after that. In fact, I realized that I was more comfortable while sleeping in the brace than before. The support it provides to the spine is very good. I slept on my back which seemed easiest.

Post 2

@turquoise-- I'm not sure. The Boston brace, like other braces is actually to keep the scoliosis from becoming more severe. Sometimes, there is improvement, but that's not a guarantee. It depends on the part of the spine that's affected, the severity and how responsive the spine is to the brace. So it's not possible to predict out comes.

But the chances of improvement will increase if the child wears the brace for the number of hours require per day and makes it to all of the follow up appointments.

Post 1

How many years does a child need to wear a Boston brace for, to treat scoliosis? Is it difficult to sleep in it?

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