This brace is designed to prevent excessive bending, and it is often prescribed to treat frontal compression fractures that have occurred around the junction of the thoracic and lumbar spine. The brace can also be used for post surgery healing from a spinal fusion.
These braces offer support that allows anterior (front) pressure unloading of the thoracic vertebrae by restricting flexion (bending) of the thoracic and lumbar spine.
Hyperextension braces have a front rectangular metal frame that puts pressure over the upper sternum and the pubis/pubic bone. This encourages spinal extension. There is opposing pressure applied over the T-10 level (the tenth vertebra in your thoracic spine). The braces offer what is called "three-point stabilization" to the spine through a front abdominal pad, a chest pad, and a rear pad at the level of the fracture.
By applying pressure in three-points - sternal, pubis and rear Lumbosacral - the spine is extended/stretched. The sternum is the narrow, flat bone in the front middle of thorax. The thorax is the portion of body between the base of the neck and the lower diaphragm.
The most common types of Hyperextension Braces are Knight Taylor and Jewett.
These jackets are designed to distribute pressure widely over a large area. By immobilizing the patient from the neck to the hips, pressure is distributed evenly, taking excess pressure off overloaded or unstable areas. These jackets were originally made of plaster of Paris, but now are typically made out of molded plastic.
These belts are designed to reduce low back strain and muscle fatigue that can occur when you are lifting heavy objects. The belt circles around the waist, covering the lumbar region of the spine, and closes in front. These belts are usually made of cloth or canvas and do not have stays. Some models also have lordosis pads.
The braces/supports are most frequently used to treat: low back pain, trauma, infections, muscular weakness, neck conditions, and osteoporosis. Braces, belts, and jackets are designed to immobilize and support the spine when there is a condition that needs to be treated. Depending on the model that is used, they can put the spine in a: neutral, upright, hyper-extended, flexed, or lateral-flexed position.
Goals of Spinal Bracing
Spinal bracing is used for a variety of reasons such as to: control pain, lessen the chance of further injury, allow healing to take place, compensate for muscle weakness, or prevent or correct a deformity. More specifically, lumbar corsets and braces compress the abdomen, which increases the intra-abdominal pressure. This act allows pressure on the vertebral column to unload, providing some relief.
There are other reasons bracing is used. One is the theory that they insulate the skin, producing increased warmth that decreases the sensation of pain - much like a heating pad. Another reason is that the increase in abdominal pressure produces hydraulic support for the back. Finally, certain types of movement may cause stress to the pain generators in the back. The decrease in range of movement by using bracing may relieve this type of pain.
Though the effects of bracing are primarily positive, they can lead to a loss of muscle function, due to inactivity. Bracing can sometimes lead to psychological addiction, so that even when the patient is healed and ready to be taken off the back brace, he or she feels dependent upon it for physical support.