Or Scoliosis brace molding, or Scoliosis brace making.
They also call it casting for a brace, but since Bex wore actual casts before the brace, the word casting means something else to me and it’s too darn confusing to my addled pea brain.
When we last left our hero Bex Lightning, his torso had been molded with thin sheets of wet fiberglass until they began to harden. (This is Part Two and if you missed Part One and would like to check it out, Click Here.)
This is all taking place at Shriners Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City where they have rad things to do like play Wii with Daddy while you wait.
After the fiberglass begins to harden and they gently cut it off the child (or teenager or adult), they stick it in sand like so. Then they fill it with wet plaster and let it harden.
Like a rough sculpture. Then they stick it on a “spit” like this and begin to carve to make the reverse mold, I think it’s called. This is where a lot of art and skill come into it.
They have to use their hands and tools to sculpt the areas where they want the brace to ultimately provide pressure points to hold and hopefully continue to correct the scoliosis curve.
This is my son’s actual mold of his body after sculpting by Peter Springs, our orthotist. Is that not wild?
Here is Bex standing in front of it. This is what a tough guy looks like. By the way, thank you Peter for giving us this fascinating tour of the process.
Okay, so the brace itself is very light. What goes into it are a layer of foam that looks like this, plastic and straps. Don’t ask me what that foot with a sock on it is. I have no idea.
The foam goes inside a layer of thick hard plastic that has to be melted in a oven in order to shape it. This is Peter with the oven, and yes it’s kind of creepy looking. Not everyone gets to see this, you are getting the inside scoop.
Don’t tell anybody I showed you this, ‘kay?
Next they add whichever color or design has been chosen by/for the child or brace wearer, it looks like these thin sheets of wrapping paper that they add to the plastic while it’s still hot.
You can go mild or go all the way Monster of Rock, brah. The brace is pliable, basically waterproof and very strong. To destroy it, you practically have to run over it with a car.
So if I have this right, after the plastic is hot they add the color or pattern and shape it around the sculpture they’ve made of the patient’s body. Then they have to use many tools to cut and sculpt the plastic down.
They cut, they sand, they shape. It’s all very factory-ish.
I’m exhausted just looking at this freakin’ equipment, aren’t you?
Here Bex is bored and just wants to go get lunch.
Once they have something they can work with, they try the brace on the patient and then make more adjustments.
Here is Bex rocking the color straps he picked out himself. The tank top underneath is important to protect his skin. It’s made of super stretchy medical material that’s antimicrobial- keeps bacteria and mold away.
They take an X-ray to see how the brace is fitting…and we asked them to cover his err, babymakers to protect future generations.
And this is how amazing my baby’s back is looking after 10 Mehta Method/EDF casts! (That redness has already gone away and the bump is disappearing as well.)
Both the casts and the brace are medical works of art that are saving and protecting the work of art underneath them, my child.
I promise Girl to Mom won’t be “all scoliosis all the time” but I wanted to put this post out there to help another person and family, hopefully many.
I know it’s scary, but think about it like braces on teeth: it sucks while they’re on, but the end result is worth every moment.
You can DO this!