With approximately 4 out of every 100 adolescents being diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), according to the Scoliosis Research Society, there are many adolescents going back to school with a back brace.

“This can be scary for many of our patients,” says Luke Stikeleather, Chief Orthotist at National Scoliosis Center.

Thankfully, one of our former (and successfully treated) patients, Annabelle Smith, had plenty of “first days” with a scoliosis brace, and here are her top three tips to make the school year a little easier, plus an important reminder.

1.  Clothes

  • Loose-fitting shirts and blouses are some of the best ways to keep cool and provide coverage.
  • Sweaters or sweatshirts are also great at hiding your brace. Wearing a jacket or cardigan over tighter clothes is also a good option.
  • When it comes to pants, straight-legged or mom jeans fit great over the brace. Pants with a drawstring or leggings are super comfortable options.

2.  Telling your Friends

Another important step is to tell your friends. Your friends might have questions, so it’s best to be prepared to explain what scoliosis is and why you wear a brace.

  • I keep a picture of my brace on my phone and have a “script,” so I can easily explain these things to anyone who asks.
  • You can decide to tell everyone by asking your teacher to address the class, or you can choose a quieter approach by sharing with a small group of friends. Remember, your comfort is the most important thing. Simply saying, “my back is crooked, so I wear a brace to keep it straight,” is just as good as a full explanation.
  • Whether you keep it quiet or go for an out-loud approach, always have a group of friends you know you can talk to about your scoliosis.

3.  P.E. Class

  • If you’re in middle or high school, chances are you’ll have to change for P.E. The first step is to contact your school nurse and P.E. teacher to let them know about your brace.
  • When it comes time for class, you can choose to change in the nurse’s office or in the locker room.
  • Once you’ve changed, be sure to store your brace somewhere safe (nurse’s or P.E. teacher’s office).

Finally, remember to have fun! Your brace won’t stop you from doing anything, so don’t be afraid to try out for sports teams, join band, or stay after school for clubs. You’ve already tackled wearing a brace, so school is going to be a piece of cake. You’ve got this, she encourages.

[Source(s): National Scoliosis Center, PR Newswire]

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