Month One Survival Guide
Change is never easy, and during the first month of bracing, there are lots of changes that you will be experiencing. Everyone’s experience with bracing is a little unique, but our goal is to help you through these changes with tips that bracers have found to be helpful during the first month of brace wear.
Top Ten Tips for Surviving Month One of Bracing
1. Tell a friend.
By sharing what you’re going through, you’ll be lifting a big weight off of your chest. Some bracers like to tell their whole class, while others prefer to tell only their close friends. Whether you tell everyone or just someone, the important thing is that you’re talking about it.
2. Find a bag for your brace.
Be on the lookout for a bag for your brace, so when it comes time to travel somewhere with your brace, you’re prepared. Whether you’re traveling out of town or changing out for PE class, you won’t have to worry about where to put your brace.
3. Get into a routine.
Try to figure out a bracing routine. If you play sports and know that you will not be able to wear the brace during practice, arrange your schedule so that you are able to all of the things that you want to do while still meeting your wear-time goals. Capitalize on the time that you are not wearing your brace to do things that may be difficult with the brace on.
4. Choose a brace buddy (or buddies).
Pick a brace buddy at school who can help you out if you ever need it. They can come in handy if your straps get tangled or if you just need an extra hand. Another option is to have your school nurse help you put your brace on.
5. Adjust your schoolbag as needed.
Especially at first, it can be challenging to get comfortable carrying your backpack while wearing your brace. First, try modifying how you wear your backpack – wear both straps snugly and try not to carry more weight than 10-15% of your body weight. If you cannot get comfortable after adjusting your backpack, look for alternatives, such as a rolling backpack or a BackTpack.
6. Invest in pants with elastic waistbands.
Pants with buttons and belt loops can be difficult to stretch over your brace and can be uncomfortable to wear underneath your brace. Elastic waistbands give you more options and tend to be more comfortable. Some brace like to wear their pants over their brace while others prefer to wear them underneath. Experiment with both and find what works for you.
7. Be honest with your orthotist and other healthcare providers.
If you are having trouble with something, don’t be hesitant to speak up. Whether it’s an uncomfortable spot on your brace or trying to adjust to this new normal, chances are your healthcare providers have dealt with these problems before and can help you find a solution.
8. Keep doing the things you enjoy doing.
While it is important to meet your wear time goals, it is also important to continue doing the things you love to do. If you’re spending the day at the beach and cannot wear your brace, don’t sweat it. Be extra compliant before and after your beach trip, and just enjoy your day at the beach! If you do certain activities that require you to be out of your brace for long periods of time, chat with your doctor and orthotist about finding a solution. Try your best, but don’t over-stress.
9. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Finding a new normal can be tough, so try not to be too hard on yourself if you find that you are getting frustrated or overwhelmed. It’s normal to feel lots of different emotions during this time, so try to let them come and go without getting too caught up in them.
10. Embrace the scoliosis community.
Although this may not be a community that you were intentionally trying to become a part of, you have officially become a member. There are so many organizations and companies, such as Curvy Girls Support Groups, Higgy Bears & Friends, Scolios-us, Braced, etc., that offer support to you along your scoliosis journey. The key is looking in the right places, and once you do, you will find that this whole community is rooting for you.