Perfect Posture

Mother was always telling me to stand up straight and not slouch.

Mother made an appointment with my doctor and he immediately made an appointment with an orthopedic specialist.

He had me bend over, and straighten up, and stand as straight as I could. He then said he thought I had both kyphosis and scoliosis, curvatures of the spine.

Another appointment was made, and several weeks later I was doing all that bending over again. X-rays were taken of my back from all sides.

Almost immediately mother took me to the hospital, and we went directly to a casting room. In this room a large rubber sheet was spread over the floor. A casting technician came in and asked me to get undressed.

There was a strange halter hanging from a hook in the ceiling with sand bags attached. A large frame on wheels was also in the room.

Stockinet was then slipped over my head and pulled down to below my knees. I was positioned with my head and chin in the halter which was then adjusted with the sandbags to stretch me out.                                              The frame was wheeled into place in front of me and my arms were lifted up and placed on a pole like support and I was immediately extended more. Measurements were taken.I could hear the sounds of water sloshing and smelled something like damp clay. Then he started wrapping my hips with wet bandages. He continued to wrap the bandages really tight all around my body. I felt this pressure on my hips and could feel my body being pushed real straight and the casting plaster started getting warmer. I was told I would have to stay in this position until the plaster dried, and then he would cut it with a cast saw. After a very long period of time I could hear a saw like sound and then he gently opened the cast up and I was released from that over-extended position. Two weeks passed and the day arrived for mother to take me back to the hospital for the fitting of a backbrace.                                              

Of course, I had no idea what to expect.An orthotist came in and was pleased that mother had given me a T-shirt to wear.                                                                                            Then he held up the back brace for me to see.  I was appalled by the sight of this horrible restrictive and cumbersome brace.                             Knowing that I was going to have to wear this, I burst into tears.                 I heard the orthotist telling my mother that this was a Milwaukeebrace.

There was a shaped stiff leather girdle that looked like a corset. When it was put around me it extended up to my lower ribs and down over my hips. It covered my buttocks and went down as low as possible in the front.

It fastened at the back with leather straps and buckles.

I was told to breathe in deeply and it was buckled as tightly as possible. I felt as if I could not breathe.

Attached to this girdle were three wide upright steels bent to conform to my body shape but not actually touching my body. They were made in two halves and fastened with screws so the length could be adjusted. One of the uprights was in the front center with the other two each side of the girdle opening to lie on each side of my spine. Connected to the rear and front uprights was shaped steel riveted to the girdle over my hips. Connecting the tops of the three uprights was a steel ring made in two halves to adjust it diameter that fitted around my neck and closed with a thumb screw in the back. The front part was connected to the top of the front upright and the rear to the tops of the rear uprights.

I heard that this was called a neck ring.

Also attached to the top of the front upright and neck ring was a large molded pad covered with soft leather that was to fit all the way under my chin. In the back were two smaller molded pads that went behind my head to support it.

When the orthotist had fastened the girdle he told me to stand up as straight as possible and extend my neck a little and hold this posture while he adjusted the brace. He slipped the chin pad under my chin and connected the neck ring and adjusted it to its smallest diameter he could without chocking me, then told me to relax, but I could not, the chin pad was pushing up under my chin and pushing the girdle down on my hips with my head tightly sandwiched between the chin and rear head supports.

I could feel the restrictions of this brace as I could hardly bend from my waist and as I tried it pushed the chin pad up harder under my chin.

The orthotist then gave me a hard chair and told me to sit down slowly. This was difficult because as I sat the brace pushed up harder and I could only sit absolutely erect, could not move my head and was forced by the brace to look upwards.

The orthotist told my mother that the brace was not yet at full extension as this was just to get me used to it and I was to come back in four weeks for full adjustment.

He also told mother that he was making adjustments as necessary for

for the orthodontic work being done as well.

She was instructed to make sure that it was worn twenty three hours every day and it must never be lowered or loosened.

Mother had brought an over size shirt and baggy pants with her and I was sent to the dressing room to put these on. However, I found these very difficult to get on as I could not see where my feet were supposed to go to get into pant legs.

Also I was wearing tied shoes and could not get them on either.

Mother had to come to help me get dressed.

I saw myself in the full length mirror and was appalled by this brace which was a mass of leather and steel bars.

Despite the loose pants and then the over- sized shirt  there was no hiding the neck ring, chin and rear head supports.

After a month I had gotten used to the feel of the brace and its weight but now all that was to start again.

Mother took me for the next appointment.  The orthotist asked my mother questions about how I had managed with the brace.

He removed it to see if there were any sore marks were it came in contact with my body. He was satisfied that the brace fit perfectly.

Then I was in for a horrible surprise.He was adding extra attachments

to the basic brace.

There were pads on the back two uprights called kyphosis pads, which I found pushed on my shoulder blades. He also added shoulder pads with outriggers that would push my shoulders back.

Then he added scoliosis straps and pads. There was a lumbar pad on my left, a thoracic one on my left and an auxiliary sling under my right arm.

He put the brace back on and told us he was going to adjust the brace fully which I would find very unpleasant but necessary.

The sheer awkwardness of the brace was very apparent. The girdle had been tightened up very firmly and felt very tight wrapped around my waist. The middle of the girdle sat on the hips and held me in very rigidly. My body was held in a very straight and rigid position and there was no room to move it.

The kyphosis pads pushed on my shoulder blades. The shoulder pads with outriggers pushed my shoulders back. They completely limited any shoulder movement and even some arm movement.

I wasvery aware of the metal collar holding my head up in a very constraining way, stretching the spine.

It is a normal thing to want to move the head and to want to look down. This new brace would not allow that.  It made me look at the ceiling instead.

The things I used to take for granted had become much harder. Everything I wanted to do, the brace made very difficult.

Reading a book became stressful because I could not move my head and my eyes had to do all the work, and so they become very tired.

The only kind of chair I could sit on was a straight back one with no cushion as soft chairs would allow my body to sink into the cushion and cause even more pressure under my chin.

There were major eating problems with all the orthodontic work being down at the same time. 

Mother got a very large bib to cover all of the Milwaukeebrace and my clothes.

With all the orthodontic appliances in my mouth so I could not open my mouth in a normal manner, and with the Milwaukee brace holding my head in such a totally restricted manner, I found that I could not even feed myself. Mother took over feeding me with an invalid cup and a long handled spoon. I used bent straws to drink.

This was a laborious and time consuming process.

The Milwaukeebrace restricted my stomach so much that I could only eat small amounts before feeling full.

Mother was the controller of the brace.

Because the brace opened up at the back, I could not take it off by myself. It was really awkward for me to remove or put on without assistance.

Mother made sure that I wore it full time and I had no choice but to submit to it.

I got tired of being in this rigidly upright corrected position very quickly but Mother would not let me out of the brace.

Being strapped into a leather girdle made my waist sweat to the point of saturation. My T-shirt under the girdle became soaked. The girdle rubbed my hips sore and dug into my legs when I tried to raise them. The chin pad rubbed my chin and made it sore and red.

This brace was very, very uncomfortable.

I was the only student in my school and at my church with this horrible brace.

Even with loose pants and an over- sized shirt there was no hiding the neck ring, chin and rear head supports.

With my body being held so rigidly, and not being able to bend, and with my shoulders being held severely straight with limited arm movement, compounded by not being able to see the floor, I walked in a odd manner.

Everyone stared at me. Some laughed and made fun of my situation.

Some asked Mother about my brace.

I could not make myself understood because of the drooling, and speech impediment from the orthodontic work being done at the same time.

When I sobbed and cried about this horrible brace and how uncomfortable it was, Mother reassured me that this was necessary so I could have a straight back and perfect posture.


oldtimer49 oldtimer49
56-60, F
4 Responses Feb 19, 2010

I wore a Milwaukee brace for 4 yrs from the age of 13, through all my secondary schooling.(Mid 1968-1972). Reading these accounts have brought back memories of this time.I was at boarding school and was treated as a sort of 'special case' with my 1hour rest period being an afternoon lie down every day. I missed playing tennis but managed to play the piano and did my grade 8 exams still in the brace................oh a long time ago!<br />
The family visited Europe from South Africa and my trusty brace came along too!<br />
I look back on this time as being a 'CB' exercise....character building

I'm crying out for something to help me! i was denied surgery but i'm getting a second opinion soon i have spina bifida, scoliosis kyphosis spine

Your story inspired me to write mine!<br />
See the rest of my story at:<br />
Child in Leg Braces. <a href="http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Wore-Leg-Braces/198212" target="ep_blank">EP Link</a><br />
and I Hated My Braces.<br />
<a href="http://www.experienceproject.com/groups/Used-To-Have-Braces/53462" target="ep_blank">EP Link</a>

I can certainly relate to this story as I had one of thos braces from the age of 8. Mine too had the leather girdle but it did not stop at my lower ribs but continued to under my armpits in fact you could say it was a full corset. I remember too the casting to make the brace and before it was cut off lots of black lines were drawn on the cast. There was one continuos black line all the way around the bottom of the cast which was very low at the front and right down on my buttocks at the back. The casting technition told my parents this is were the corset would extend to. Another black line was drawn at the top end just under my armpits and he said this is were the top of the corset would extend. I did not have to have the kyphosis pads that is why I was being put in a full corset molded to do the same job.<br />
<br />
An appointment was made for me to see an orthodontist to have braces made to keep my teeth straight because the brace would be pushing up hard under my chin continuous and would couse my teeth to become deformed unless braced. My parents were given a letter to take to the orthodontist as he wanted these braces fitted before my brace was put on in about 4 weeks.<br />
The orthodontist took immpressions of my upper and lower teeth and an appointment was made for two weeks later.<br />
When we went back my braces were waiting for me on a tray. I couldn't believe what I was seeing just a mass of plastic, wires, screws and springs. The orthodontist told me when he put the braces in my mouth would be very full. He told my parents the braces needed to be so extensive to protect my teeth from the pressure that would be forced under my chin, Open wide he said and put the top brace in which felt very tight around all my teeth. The plastic part was molded to fit right over my gums and the whole roof of my mouth.<br />
The lower brace was put in, this also covered my gum and all the way under my tongue.<br />
<br />
A week later still not able to talk proper with the braces it was time to be fitted with the brace. Just like you I was horrified, it was horendous. The corset looked so long and it dawned on me that once this corset was fastened my torso would be totaly encased from buttocks to armpits. The leather was quite thick, moulded, and as hard as rock.The rest of the brace was as you have described it with the molded steel bands from the front to rear uprights rivetted over the hips of the corset.<br />
The orthotist tol my parents the corset was to be worn as a corset, very tight. Unlike a normal girdle usually used for this brace, there is a space betwween the opening at the back. Not this corset. It had a leather tongue to stop my skin being pinched when tightened. It fastened at the back with 8 leather straps and steel buckles and it was to be tightened until both halves of the corset compltly meet. <br />
The corset was put on and the straps gradually tightened from bottom to top. I had to keep taking deep breathes and holding while the straps were tightened one hole at a time. It was so tight I could hardly breath and the feeling it me like a ton of brick. It was so restrictive I couldn't bend forward and I could feel it pressing hard on my stomach. The next words I didn't want to hear. The orthotist told my parents this is how it must remain 23 hours every day and must not be loosened.<br />
<br />
Next the uprights were adjusted until the chin support rested under my chin and he fastened the neck ring and adjusted it until my head was tightly sandwiched between the chin and rear head supports.<br />
<br />
The whole thing was then cranked up. I could feel the chin support pushing harder and harder under my chin, the rear haed support pushing harder at the base of my head and an increasing pressure over my hips from the downward push.<br />
Eventually my spine was stretched to his liking with my neck in high extension forcing me to look upwards. Agai those words came. The uprights must never be lowered or the neck ring loosened.<br />
<br />
As with your experience, everything I took for granted was made very difficult by the brace. I too could only sit on a high hard chair and as I did the brace went higher until my mouth was clamed tight shut from the pressure of the chin support.<br />
I also had the same trouble feeding wiyh all the orthodontic appliances in my mouth and I had to kneel on the chair to prevent the brace being pushed up more. With my head tilted looking up my parents too had to feed me mostly because I couldn;t se my food in front of me. My mother did ask permission to lower the brace a little just at meal times. Permission was refused.<br />
As with your problem, my corset pressed so hard into my stomach I couldn't eat large meals because I always felt full. I had to eat small amounts more regularly.<br />
<br />
I also walked odd becase of the brace rigidness.<br />
Because I couldn't see the floor in front of me I sprained my ankles several times when I walked over rougth ground. To prevent this I was made to wear a pair of strong boots to support my ankles. I was laced in the boots which extended up to high calf level and were laced as tight as my corset. Of couse I couldn't get them off or loosen them because I was unable to bend to reach them.<br />
Lots of people used to stare at me, especially other kids my age. Apart from the horrific brace they couldn't understand why in the middle of summer with my shorts on I was wearing laced boots to practically my knees.<br />
<br />
I had the daily ritual of brace checking by my parents. Checking every strap on the corset was tight and the uprights had not dropped to lower the brace.<br />
<br />
I also cried about this horrific brace and my parents also told me it was necessary to fully comply.<br />
<br />
I was in this type of brace for 8 years/