14 year old Blake Moehlmann was diagnosed with scoliosis two years ago and is getting the finishing touches on his first brace–which as far as braces go–his high tech.
Back in the day brace making was a painstaking process–patients were slathered with up to five rolls of plastic bandages which took nearly an hour to dry.
And that was just the beginning.
The birth of Blake’s brace started at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas where director of orthotics Don Virostek used a laser to map Blake’s body—the device measured every contour to ensure a snug fit.
The information is loaded into a computer which created a template for custom fit brace.
“This is his x-ray in there with his brace sitting by side by side,” Virotek said while he pointed at the screen.
That information is fed to the cad-car room where the magic really happens.
In about 20 minutes a chunk of foam is machined, carved and shaved into the shape of the patient and will serve as the high tech mold.
Blake’s brace fits like a glove.
“I can tell it’s on but it’s really not bothering me any,’ Blake said. “like I can stand it being on like this, it’s not bothering me any wearing it.”
Virostek said the process from scanning to wearing now takes about two hours—roughly half the time it used to take.
Impressive as that may sound the fit is what’s most important.
“If we can make a brace that Blake would put on and if it’s not comfortable enough to tolerate wearing then he is not going to want to wear it,” Virostek said. “if he doesn’t wear it the brace will not prevent his curve from getting worse.”
Virostek said that if kids wear their braces 18 hours a day the success rate for stopping the curvature from getting worse is 80%.
The Texas Speedway Children’s charity donated $150.000.00 for the program which has been up and running for eight months.
Blake will wear the brace until he stops growing–hopefully it will prevent him from having to have surgery.
Something he’s not bracing for.
“I want to get it taken care of,” Blake said. “I don’t have to worry about it in the long run.”