Teenager Launches Scoliosis Brace Design Contest
Posted on by Sarah Cunzolo, CPed, COA, CFo
Let me introduce you to an exceptional, inspiring teenager: Ava from emBrace.
Ava was 11 years old and entering middle school when she was first diagnosed with scoliosis. Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder with a sideways (lateral) curvature of the spine. There are a variety of treatment approaches and combinations for scoliosis: physical therapy, scoliosis bracing, and surgery.
In Ava's treatment, she was prescribed a scoliosis brace. With any student entering middle school, the look and appearance of her brace were critical to compliance with her scoliosis treatment. The designs and patterns offered were “unflattering and loud”—nothing that Ava was interested in choosing. This led to an aversion to her wearing the scoliosis brace, which led to a progression of her curve, ultimately leading Ava to receive corrective scoliosis surgery.
Looking back on her experience and wanting to change the future for others in her situation, Ava started emBrace. She wants others “to wear their braces proudly and with confidence.”
embrace is a nationwide competition to encourage artists to design fashionable prints and patterns for scoliosis braces. The response was overwhelming! emBrace received over 700 entries nationwide, plus some from other countries as far as Turkey. Entrants included professional artists, art students, art teachers, and high school students.
“I was unbelievably excited and shocked to see how many entries emBrace got,” says Ava. “My original goal for this competition was 50 entries, so I was pretty blown away that hundreds of people were interested in contributing to this mission. The passion for this community was, and is, inspiring.”
This year, emBrace is working with Friddles Orthopedic Company to launch the winning designs in their new brace collection. Ava says, “After speaking to other girls with scoliosis, many complained about the brace designs, which motivated me to investigate the origin behind the pattern design process.”
She researched how transfers were used and where companies bought them. That is when she discovered Friddles. Ava says, “I decided to call them to ask about the designs. I was surprised when they revealed that most of the designs were taken from Google images. As an artist, I felt I could help create more fashionable designs, and I immediately volunteered to be a part of the process.” Friddles was very open to improving their designs, and they offered Ava a lot of help during the competition. She is so grateful for all their support.
“This experience with emBrace has been unique and propelled me to discover my entrepreneurial spirit,” says Ava. “I have become empowered as both a woman and an artist. I see it as my responsibility to ensure that women with braces can look in the mirror and feel confident with their appearance, preserving their physical and mental health. No woman should have to endure painful back surgery because she is too embarrassed to wear a brace. I love the winning designs from this competition, and I hope everyone else will too!”
Boston Orthotics & Prosthetics will be carrying some the designs in the near future. See the winning designs at: embracethebrace.org/designs. For more information about emBrace, visit embracethebrace.org or email Ava at email@example.com.