Hesperian Health Guides

Body Supports

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 58: Braces (Calipers) > Body Supports

In most cases, a body brace or body jacket probably does little or nothing to correct or prevent further curving of the spine. However, a child with a ‘flail’ spine that curves so much that it makes sitting difficult or awkward, may sit more comfortably and have more use of her arms if she has a body brace.

Girl with curved spine sitting on knees.
Girl in body brace sitting straight, hand up.
Making a plastic body brace

1. Put small pads over upper outer corners of hipbone. 2. Put a stockinette or old tight-fitting shirt on the child.
Girl´s torso and upper legs, with pads placed on hip bones.
Tie a cloth band or soft rope tightly over the hip bones so that it pulls in the waist. Girl´s torso and upper legs, with pads placed on hip bones.
3. Cast the child’s body with plaster bandage while holding her in a sitting position.*
Girl sitting, held by arms while being covered with plaster bandages.
Press plaster into groove here.
Bring plaster down to the level of the seat.
While the plaster dries, hold the child as straight as you can.
This ‘shelf’ over the hip bones becomes a base for the final brace to hold her body upright.
4. Cut the cast into 2 halves and remove. 5. Tape or tie the 2 halves of the cast together and put it into a plastic bag.
Sideview of girl in cast.
Two halves of cast tied together in plastic bag.
6. Make a solid plaster mold inside the cast. 7. Remove the plaster mold and smooth it carefully to keep its shape, especially the waist and hip curves.
plaster being pored into brace mold with metal rod in the center.
metal rod
You can make it lighter and save plaster by mixing sawdust or bits of plastic foam into the plaster.
smoothed out plaster mold.
8. Stretch hot plastic over the mold. If your oven or sheets of plastic are not big enough, you may have to mold it in 2 halves, front and back. 9. Mark and cut the plastic. Leave a little room under arms.

Cut breathing holes and perhaps a large central hole over the stomach.
Plastic body brace with holes on chest and central hole by belly button.
10. Try it on the child. Make adjustments. Smooth edges. Add padding and straps. A body brace attached to leg braces may be needed by a child whose body is weak from the chest down.
Plastic body brace with holes on chest and central hole by belly button.
The bottom of the brace should just touch the seat when the child sits.
Child in body brace connected to leg brace and using crutches.

*Casting can also be done with the child lying lengthwise over a wide strip of cloth stretched between two points.

This page was updated:19 Jan 2018