(650) 375-2231

Call our main office


8:30 AM-5:30 PM

Amongst all the different types of back braces, the Boston brace is the one usually used for the treatment of kids and teens
It’s the most widely used thoraco-lumbo-sacral- orthosis or full back brace in the United States.  You need a doctors’ or an Orthotists’ prescription to wear one because it has to be specific to your case. 
This article will help you understand how the Boston brace works, what the indications for use are and how much it costs. If you’re suffering from a condition for which you need a Boston brace, then this post will help answer many of the questions you might have.  
Overview of the Boston Brace 
The Boston brace is made of rigid polypropylene material and you wear it by wrapping it around your chest, ribs, back and hips.  There’s padding inside the brace for comfort since patients have to wear it for many hours at a time. 
The main purpose of the Boston brace is to keep the spinal deformities from getting any worse. 
Recently, there’ve been advances in treatment technology and the most prominent one’s the Boston brace 3D. It’s a customized orthosis that provides corrective forces in all three planes and has room for rotational movements.
Although it’s a full-back brace, your Orthotist can prescribe you a region-specific brace such as the Boston Lumbar Brace or Boston Thoracic Brace based on your condition. 
Working Mechanism of the Boston Brace 
Just like any other spinal brace or spine alignment brace, the Boston brace works by applying steady pressure on the spine to force it back into alignment. 
The Boston brace has pads on either side that are the main areas for providing a medially directed force. The location of these pressure points is decided based on the kind of spinal deformity your Orthotist wants to treat and varies from case to case. 
The pads are placed in a zigzag shape (push-relief principle). If one of your pads is on the left side of the lower back, then the next pad will be on the right side and slightly above that level. 
This brace is prescribed for teens, and the way a Boston brace works is that when the pads apply force to centralize the spine, the developing spine of an adolescent starts to grow towards the midline. 
Your Orthotist will regularly reassess your scoliosis and measure the spinal deviations to determine if you need a better fitting Boston brace. 
The Boston brace is highly effective in fixing spinal deformities. But it takes four to five years of wearing the brace to have a full recovery. 
Indications of the Boston Brace
The primary indication of prescribing a Boston brace is Idiopathic Scoliosis. That’s the condition where the spine is curved sideways early on in life. It’s due to genetic factors and not the result of a bad posture or injury. 
The Boston brace is indicated to correct the spinal alignment of the growing spine. 
It’s used when your doctors determine that the conservative approaches will not be effective and a brace is necessary to stop the progression of the curve. 
The exact size of the brace depends on your Cobb’s angle, which is in most simple terms, the level of lateral spinal deviation from the neutral position. 
There’re also some contraindications to using the Boston brace. Obesity and psychological conditions such as claustrophobia are at the top of the list. There can be other factors as well which your Orthotist will tell you about after your physical examination. 
Boston Brace Cost
The cost of a Boston brace varies in different areas of the United States, but the average cost is around $2,600 to $3,000. The actual price can be higher depending on which design you use such as Boston brace 3D, Jacket, Night Shift etc. 
Since this treatment is a medical necessity, most insurance plans cover the cost of a Boston brace. 
Complications of Using the Boston Brace Although one of the best solutions for treating Idiopathic Scoliosis, the Boston brace has several side effects which cannot be ignored. 
Since it restricts the spine, there’re limitations to what kind of physical activity you can do and how much forward or backward bending is permitted while wearing the Boston brace. 
Here’re some more complications to watch out for when using a Boston brace: 1. It Restricts Your Breathing
Since the Boston brace demands a snug fit around your chest and ribs, you’ll find it hard to take deep breaths. Your Orthotist might refer you to a pulmonary physical therapist for breathing exercises to counter any long-term effects. 
But the restricted breathing will remain a complication as long as you’re wearing the Boston brace. It also affects the amount of physical activity you can do. 2. Effects on the Abdomen 
Weak muscles, increased abdominal pressure and bowel issues are some of the complications of using the Boston brace. 
A good Orthotist will provide you with ample instructions on how to use the brace and effective home exercise programs to reduce these problems. 3. Skin Issues and Perspiration
Hot and humid climates are a major issue for those who wear the Boston brace. 
Proper cleaning methods and safety guidelines are helpful. But since you’re required to wear the brace for 15+ hours a day, you’ll still suffer from skin rashes, pimples, and raw skin at some point.
That complication is avoidable by staying cool, using antiperspirant creams, taking care of the skin and most importantly by understanding the warning signs.  
Final Thoughts
The Boston brace is a great device to treat spinal issues in adolescents. The success rate is high and there’s evidence supporting its use for Idiopathic Scoliosis. 
If the complications become too much to handle then there’re other options you can consider. 
If you’re dealing with a new Boston brace or looking for alternative therapies, then reach out to us online or visit any one of our locations for an expert consultation with our Orthotists. 
Our multidisciplinary teams will guide you on how to properly use a Boston brace and help you with all your queries.  

Does anyone in your life have an artificial limb? If not, have you ever met anyone with prosthetics? 
In the United States alone, doctors perform between 300 and 500 amputations every day. There’s a good chance that you’ve met numerous people with artificial limbs without even noticing it.

However, modern artificial limbs work so well and look so convincing that most people don’t even notice them. Thanks to the recent developments in prosthetics technology, people with disabilities can walk, run, and even swim as well as they did before losing a limb.

Today, we are going to see how state-of-the-art prosthetics work, what types of them are there, and see how you know when you need to consult a prosthetist.

The Different Types of Prosthetics
A prosthesis is an artificial device that replaces an impaired or a missing part of the human body. The replacement limb is there to substitute a part of the body a patient may have lost in war, in an accident, or that wasn’t there from birth.

Some prosthetic limbs are highly functional and replace the lost body part almost entirely. Others, however, are there for cosmetic purposes only and serve no higher functions. Artificial hands are usually made for cosmetic reasons.

Generally speaking, there are four groups of prosthetic limbs. They are divided into two categories.

Lower extremities

  • Transtibinal: A prosthetic leg that replaces the limb cut off below the knee, which attaches to the remaining part of the upper leg.
  • Transfemoral: A prosthetic leg that replaces the limb cut off above the knee, it attaches to the upper part of the thigh and includes an artificial knee.

Upper extremities

  • Transradial: A prosthetic forearm that replaces the limb cut off below the elbow that attaches just below the elbow and features a prosthetic wrist.
  • Transhumeral: A prosthetic arm that replaces a limb cut off below the shoulder and above the elbow, and includes a prosthetic elbow. 

How Prosthetic Limbs Work
A functional prosthetic limb is made of four parts: the limb itself, the socket that connects it to the body, the mechanism that attaches it, and the system that allows the patient to control it. Let’s take a look at each part individually and see how it works.

1. The Limb
The look of the prosthetic limb is dictated by the job it needs to do. The aforementioned cosmetic prosthetic limbs are there for appearance, which means they don’t need to be mobile too much.

Prosthetic legs, on the other hand, are there to substitute a major structural part of your body. They need to bear someone’s weight and allow them to walk normally. Both prosthetic legs and arms are made out of lightweight and durable materials like carbon fiber.

2. The Socket
Since the amputee will wear the prosthetic throughout the day, it needs to be as comfortable as possible. The connecting part of the artificial limb is more commonly known as the socket. The prosthetic makers mold the socket carefully around the cast taken from the amputee’s residual limb.

The socket needs to fit the residual limb precisely if the manufacturer wants the wearer to be completely comfortable. The socket may require some tweaks after a few years since most residual limbs go through some changes.

3. The Attachment
A prosthetic arm or leg needs to be secured to the residual limb by a strong attachment system. The attachment can come in a form of the suction socket, elastic, rubber sleeve, or a strap and harness system.

The system is also important to one’s comfort, however, it plays another major role. It ensures that the patient can properly control the mechanical limb. The socket can be part of the attachment system too. A leg socket, for instance, may have a large plastic case, in which the amputee inserts their leg.

4. The Controls
A healthy limb is pulled by muscles and tendons, and managed by the brain. A simple prosthetic limb is operated by a system of cables that runs through it. These cables do the same job as the muscles do in a healthy limb.

Hollow artificial legs work mainly through gravity and it’s up to the person wearing them to learn how to operate them properly. There are also sophisticated prosthetics, which are powered by batteries and operated by remote control.

How Do You Know When You Need Prosthetics?
There are a few things you need to discuss with your doctor and consult a prosthetician about before getting a prosthetic leg:

  • How much pain are you experiencing on a daily basis?
  • What’s your skin condition around the limb?
  • Does the area have enough soft tissue around it?
  • What’s the motion range of your residual limb?
  • Is the other limb 100% healthy and mobile?
  • Before the amputation, how active were you?
  • What goals do you have for your prosthetic limb?  

The Costs of Losing a Limb
Another thing you need to be aware of is the cost of losing a limb. As data gathered by BioTech shows, over a lifetime, a person that lost a limb will spend almost $510k on medical bills and healthcare. On average, an amputee will spend $150k more on hospital bills than a regular person.

Back in 2013, healthcare charges for people that underwent a limb removal procedure reached $8.7 billion. Considering that the number of amputations has remained relatively the same, it’s safe to say that healthcare spending remained similar.

Final Thoughts
Losing a limb is hard both on your wallet and on your psyche. Going through this experience is certainly life-changing. 

However, it isn’t life-ending.

When something like that happens, it’s only the beginning of a new phase of life. With perseverance, a person that lost a limb regain independence and live a normal life in a matter of months. 

Get in touch with our San Francisco prosthetic orthotic service

Make sure you consult a prosthetist certified by the American Academy of orthotics and Prosthetists.