Why Brace Buddies was created...
Anastasia started complaining about back pain. I noticed something was different about her back and posture. I took a closer look and noticed her shoulders were different and when she bent over, her back hunched on one side. What was that all about, I wondered. We anxiously waited for her doctors appointment to see why her back was so sore. To our surprise, she was diagnosed with scoliosis. It amazed me how little we knew of Scoliosis and how common it actually is.
At first when Anastasia was diagnosed, she was only 23 degrees. We were told to watch and wait. Well, only 4 months later, her biggest curve went from 23 to 43 degrees. No more watching, it was definitely time for action. When we saw just how fast the curve progressed, we wanted that brace on asap. She was excited about the brace and what it could do for her.
Anastasia started wearing a (TLSO/Boston) back brace when she was 13 years old. Immediately after getting the brace we started shopping for something she could wear under the new brace. As any brace wearers know, you must be very careful what goes on under the brace. If the brace is not covered in every area that touches the skin, the skin could become very agitated and raw and may result in sores so it's important to find the right coverage.
The brace came up very high under the arms and across the chest so all the tank tops we found left exposed skin contacting the brace. All we could find to cover the areas of the skin touching the brace were t-shirts.
All the shirts we found left large creases in the skin causing bruising and indents that were very itchy. None of the shirts were a good fit no matter the size. The material was itchy and prickly regardless of what it was. Anastasia would get sores and rashes from everything we tried. She was frustrated and disappointed. It was hard to watch my daughter struggle so much and not be able to do anything about it.
She wore a t-shirt under the brace to protect the skin, then another t-shirt over the brace to cover the top of the brace. Now you could see the two layers of t-shirts as well as the outline of the brace. This did not look good and caused a great deal of frustration, depression and heart break for her! She was not even a T-Shirt kind of person. She became even more self conscious and insecure. Being a teen is hard enough already!
We realized not only was it impossible for her to be comfortable in the brace but there was also no way she could wear any "normal" clothes while wearing the brace. She was now forced to wear these itchy t-shirts every day. And no matter the weather, she wore a hoodie to try to cover up the t-shirt layers.
I looked at her on a beautiful warm day and saw sweat dripping down her cheeks. My heart broke seeing her wearing the two t-shirts, the brace and the hoodie. She was so hot and uncomfortable but we both understood the need for brace compliance and the consequences if she didn't wear the brace, even on those hot days. It was clear something must be done to make her more comfortable during the bracing process over the next few years. She could not continue like this!
We searched and searched everywhere in stores and on line for anything else. Any other option! All we found were more t-shirts or tank tops. Not good enough! It didn't matter what the t-shirt was made with, it is still a t-shirt. Even if the under-brace shirt was comfortable, it still would not look right with whatever was worn over the brace. I had to do something!
So, that's when I thought of the Brace Buddies body sock! Once I made the Brace Buddies strapless body sock, Anastasia could wear nearly whatever she wanted and not have to worry about the layers under or over the brace. Her comfort level increased, she no longer had prickly rashes and sores. Her skin was protected no longer having contact with the brace and her clothing was saved from catching on the straps. Her clothing options were back and most importantly, her confidence was back. What a relief!
The Brace Buddies shirt offered her protection and comfort. Another super cool fact was that because of the way her brace was shaped, the body sock also worked similar to a sports bra. Because of the fit of the body sock with the brace, Anastasia no longer needed to wear a bra when wearing the brace with the body sock so no more straps of the bra pressing into her sides under the padding of her brace.
Anastasia insisted we do something for other kids who were struggling with bracing because we knew how imperative adhering to brace compliance is!! While bracing for 3 years, Anastasia's curve progressed less than 10 degrees. We dare not think what her curve could be today without that period of bracing.
I remember all too well how my heart ached watching my daughter struggle. I wanted to do whatever I could to help others struggling with adhering to brace compliance one shirt at a time. If you can help us to improve, please reach out to us! We want to reach as many as possible to make this journey a little easier.
Oh, did you wonder where the name "Brace Buddies" came from? When Anastasia started high school, she noticed another girl who sat in front of her at school also wore a brace. They quickly became very good friends. One day, this friend addressed Anastasia as her Brace Buddy. I thought this was super cute and that became the name I used for her brace shirts. It caught on with her and she loved it too, so here we are!