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Embrace your brace

Embrace your brace

Embrace your brace

That is the message 11-year-old Katie is hoping to pass along to other scoliosis patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville and anyone else who must wear an orthotic or brace. Katie has learned firsthand the importance of brace compliance. Her once 26 and 20 degree S-shaped spinal curves are now 10 and six degrees!

But Katie hasn’t been the only one to embrace her brace. She knows that along with support from her family, it is support from her friends that makes a huge impact. “If my friends didn’t support me I probably wouldn’t wear the brace as much as I am supposed to wear it,” Katie says. “I usually wear my brace for 22 hours a day. For two years, I’ve done everything with my brace on. I never take it off unless I’m swimming or showering.” 

Katie's school, St. Gregory the Great Catholic School in Bluffton, South Carolina, has also been instrumental in her brace compliance. When she first returned to school with her brace, they allowed her to pick two “brace buddies” to be trained to help Katie put on and take off her brace if it needed adjusting during the school day. Katie chose friends Camille and Quinlan. “I thought it was going to be a lot bulkier, but you can hardly tell Katie has a brace on,” says Camille. What at first was an unknown assignment for her friends quickly became the social highlight of the day. The girls admit, “We have signals and sometimes when a class gets boring, we’ll say Katie needs her brace adjusted, even if she doesn’t,” admits Camille.

This past year, Katie’s brace may have been the best recess prop in fifth grade as classmates tried to see how far footballs and soccer balls would ricochet off of Katie. "There isn't anything Katie can't do with her brace on. Katie runs, plays soccer, football, everything," says Quinlan. "One time, I was playing goalie and the ball hit my brace, bounced off and nailed the person who had just kicked it knocking him down," Katie adds. "It was so funny!"  

A few months ago, when it was time for Katie to choose a pattern for her new brace, her teacher showed all the options on the classroom smart board and the whole class got involved in the process and voted on their favorite. “Everyone in my school knows I wear a back brace. It’s really no big deal,” Katie says, “I just want other patients to know that it’s OK to wear your brace. Just rock your brace! Embrace your brace! It could make a difference, like it did for me.”

Katie’s brace buddies came to her most recent check-up at the Greenville Shriners Hospital. During the visit, Quinlan and Camille learned just how much their help and support made a difference in Katie’s life. “I had no idea that she could have had to have spine surgery if her brace hadn’t helped her. Now, I’m really glad we help Katie with her brace!” Camille exclaimed.