Wearing a Scoliosis Brace in School: What You Need to Know
When your child has been diagnosed with scoliosis and is wearing a brace as part of the treatment process, they should be able to continue to participate in most of their regular school and extracurricular activities.
It is an adjustment, however, and being prepared will help make the experience of wearing a brace as comfortable and stress-free as possible for your child.
Notify teachers and the school. It’s a good idea to make your child’s teachers and the school administration aware of the scoliosis diagnosis and the brace in case your child needs to miss classes or activities for appointments. Your physician, orthotist and therapist can write a note to the school showing the date and time of the appointment. Just let them know when you check in for your appointment if it’s requested by your school.
Plan for sports and physical activity. In most cases, scoliosis patients can continue to participate in sports and physical activity—it’s important for the child to stay as active as possible. The brace can be removed for these activities. If your child will need to change out of the brace for sports while at school, make sure they have a place to put it. The school nurse should be able to assist. Some kids use a brace bag for storage in these cases.
Get support. Wearing a brace to school can be difficult for a child emotionally. There are many excellent resources, like Curvy Girls and scoliosis support groups on Facebook, that can provide advice and support to both kids and parents alike. If your child is worried about people asking about the brace, practice how she will respond to questions and comments so she feels prepared and confident. Not wanting to talk about it is OK too! The right answer is how your child feels about sharing their information with friends. It’s up to them.
Help your child prepare. Follow the break-in wear schedule provided by the orthotist. It can take up to a week or more of weaning in before they go to school for the first time wearing the brace. Your child should practice putting the brace on and taking it off by themselves. This gives them ownership of the brace and helps with their independence.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Help your child find comfortable clothes to wear, such as long T-shirts, leggings, athletic shorts, loose dresses, etc. For more on what to wear with a scoliosis brace, see our blog post on Scoliosis Fashion Tips
- Have your child practice sitting at a desk so she can find the most comfortable position, and let her know she can ask to get up and stretch or walk around during class if she needs to
- Consider getting a rolling backpack so your child doesn’t have to carry extra weight
- See if it’s possible to get an extra set of textbooks, so she can keep one at home and one in the classroom
- Request a top locker so your child doesn’t have to bend down to get books
- Ask the school nurse for access to a larger, private bathroom when your child has to remove the brace
With bracing for scoliosis, adherence—wearing the brace for the recommended number of hours a day—is crucial to achieving a good outcome. Making brace-wearing more comfortable for your child doesn’t just help their comfort and state of mind, it can improve the results of the treatment. Remember, we’re here to help! If your child is having difficulty wearing the brace, please notify your orthotist. Sometimes a simple adjustment is all it takes!
Looking for Additional Support?
Boston O&P also offers a Facebook Group for families of Boston Brace patients that is moderated by our clinicians. Join today for additional support for your loved one's bracing journey!