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Chest deformities usually occur during early childhood and only get visible when the child hits puberty. Although these conditions occur in a small percentage of children – only around 1 in 300 kids experience it – that still means that millions of children have suffered from it.

When this happens to your child, you have to be there to provide the proper emotional support for them and guide them through the process of recovery to the best of your abilities. Today, we’re going to discuss how to prepare your child for chest bracing.

When is the Time to Visit a Doctor? As you may know by now, scientists are still not precisely sure what causes chest deformities. In some cases, it appears to be hereditary, although it doesn’t mean that your child will surely experience a chest wall deformity if you had problems with it in the past.

What’s more, you can’t be sure until your child hits puberty that they’ll even need any chest wall deformity treatment. Almost 66% of chest deformity sufferers don’t show any signs of it until they hit puberty. That means you should look out for signs mostly during the first puberty growth spurt. 

How to Tell Whether Your Child Needs Bracing or Not? It’s time to see the doctor when your child starts showing the following symptoms:

  • Experiencing shortness of breath
  • Feeling constant chest pain
  • The chest area starts looking swollen
  • When respiratory problems become often

Once you take your child to the doctor’s they’ll perform an X-ray of your child’s chest and see whether or not they have a chest wall abnormality. The doctor will prescribe a chest brace if the shape of their chest wall is too far gone for posture exercises to correct it.

The brace is there to compress the child’s breast bone back in position and make it flat again. The process may take anywhere from a few weeks to two years. It all depends on the severity of the case.

How to Prepare Your Child for Braces in 5 Steps. After the doctor prescribes the brace, you still need to talk to your child to make sure that they are okay with it. You don’t want to get your child braced only to find out that they don’t want to abide by the rules and they refuse to wear it for the full duration of the treatment.

Here are a few things you need to talk to your child about.

Step 1: Discuss Different Treatment Options. First off, you should explain that the only alternative to wearing a brace is surgery. While surgery is only recommended in serious cases, refusing to wear a brace will only lead to the condition worsening down the line. Explain to them that surgery should be avoided and that wearing the brace is much simpler.

Step 2: Tell Them What They Can Expect from Braces. Depending on what the doctor prescribes, your child will end up wearing either a non-customized circular brace or a fully-customized dynamic brace. Explain to your child how these braces work, talk about how long they’ll have to wear it, and that they’ll wear it less and less as time goes by.

Step 3: Talk About the Safety of Their Chest Brace. The brace is the safest option and the least painful as well. Your child should be aware of this because it will motivate them to go through the treatment, even if they’re not happy about it at first. While some children feel discomfort during the first couple of days, it usually disappears rather quickly. Also, mention that skin irritation may occur during the start of the process and that it’s completely normal.

Step 4: Show Them Support for Wearing the Brace Outside. Wearing a brace outside, while playing with other children will feel awkward in the beginning. Some children even feel shame because of it. Again, you need to let your child know that there’s nothing wrong with this. Talk to them and try to get their friends to talk to them and show support.

Step 5: Explain How Long They’ll Need to Wear the Brace. Lastly, you need to let your child know that they won’t be wearing the brace for years. Only a handful of cases require a child wearing a brace for more than a year. More often than not, the child needs to wear it for a couple of months. That period goes by quicker than most think, so make sure your child knows it.

Home Care for Pigeon Chest Patients. You need to keep in mind that for a majority of the treatment, you and your child will be spending time home. That means you’ll be the one taking care of their needs. As the Association of Surgery Technicians describes, there are two stages of wearing a chest brace:

  • The Corrective Phase: 3 to 12 months of wearing the brace 23 hours a day
  • The Maintenance Phase: 3 to 6 months of wearing the brace 8 to 10 hours a day

The process will last at least a few months and during that period, you need to learn how to put the brace correctly and how to make adjustments. Your child will be able to attend school and participate in after-school activities. The brace can be taken off during high-intensity activities like playing sports.

Encourage Your Child to Wear Their Chest Brace. A chest wall deformity can be a serious condition. And while it can be handled rather painlessly, it can take a toll on your child. Wearing a brace for a couple of months doesn’t seem like a great idea to any child, so it’s your job as a parent to explain everything and encourage them to wear it.

Explain that wearing the brace for a couple of months beats surgery by a long shot and that after wearing it, they won’t have to worry about having chest deformities ever again.