This fully rigid thick plastic back brace is one of the reason's I am a chiropractor today.
I came across it while clearing the garage (hence the dusty shorts) this weekend and thought I would try it on for a giggle, and giggle I certainly did, it DOES NOT fit like it used to when I was 16 years old, which is to be expected!
I can't tell you ALL of my story because it would be considered a testimonial for Chiropractic and Chiropractors are legally not allowed to share testimonials. So below is what I will share with you.
I wore this rigid full body back brace for 2 years of my life. Age 15-17 years old. in every waking hour (other than showering). Sometimes I had to wear it to bed too.
Because I had a rapidly progressing Scoliosis and the concern was without brace and then surgery I would get organ failure due to my spine bending side ways and cutting off nerve supply to organs. Lesson 1 from this story: your spine is bloody important and if it is not functioning well then it puts pressure on other systems in your body that you can't feel pain in.
Believe it or not, they still brace people in certain circumstances now.
-Developed great squatting and lifting technique due to inability to pick anything up without squatting (forever had short hamstrings). See photo's of me attempting to reach the ground!
-Avoided massive spinal surgery involving 2 metal rods full length on both sides of my spine and 6 months on my stomach as stage 1 of recovery.
-Did not have to wear a bra. Although at a time in your life when wearing bras seemed to matter ALOT, I really wasn't that thrilled about this part. Hindsight is 20/20 vision right?
-I had and still have amazing family and friends who I was surrounded by while I wore this brace. They continued to give me as much shit as the next non brace wearing person. They treated me like I wasn't wearing a brace. Which is what every person who is slightly different wants in life!
Lesson number 2: treating someone who is different as normal is one of the kindest things you can do. And also: define "normal" no one is normal.
-Yes people stared at me. You could see the brace poking out the bottom of my tops and if i bent forward at all it would stick out at the top. I chose to wear big baggy clothes as often as possible to to hide it.
-Pain. The pain was very real when my spine was growing sideways. I popped painkillers like candy from an age much too young because my family and I didn't know any different, didn't know there were other ways and we were doing what we were told.
Lesson number 3: there is a time and a place for painkillers, but remember sometimes there are other ways without them.
Did it stop me?
No way! I still played competitive netball and basketball with this brace on. While it most likely hindered my performance dramatically I still managed to kick ass in the rep teams of my province. I worked with it and adapted my movements around the brace. I had zero rotation, side bending and forward and backward bending. So my foot work had to be on point! And to ensure i had foot work sorted i spent hours tiny stepping around the wheely bin at home (where no one could see me because i was ashamed and embarrassed but determined to prove my worth) to make sure I could keep up with the people who had full movement of their bodies while playing sport.
This brace taught me:
How to persevere, that family and friends are who you can rely on, to be stubborn, to believe in you and your own capability and that "you are only defined from the walls you build yourself." That brace didn't define me, although it easily could have. Embrace (mind the pun) the situations you are in, silver lining's are ALWAYS there.
In a way it shaped some of my personality today. You learn alot about how the world works between the ages of 15 and 17.
It also lead me to my greatest gift yet, being a chiropractor and it taught me that "the human body has more healing ability than anyone lets you believe."
And that is a wrap. If you have any more question's about this or know anyone with scoliosis who would like some help let me know!
Over and out,
Hi. My name is Ainslee, I am a chiropractor and passionate about guiding people towards living their best. I love to facilitating people to get people well and stay well.