What is BrAISTCalc?

BrAIST-Calc is an online aid for patients with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis who want to estimate their personal risk of scoliosis surgery with and without bracing treatment.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Decisions about your health are not always easy! You have a choice about scoliosis treatment. You can do nothing, participate in a scoliosis-specific exercise program, wear a brace…or combine exercise and a brace. The same choice is not right for everyone.Sometimes it’s easier to make a decision if you have more information. That’s how BrAIST-Calc can help – by giving you more information about your risk and the possible benefit of wearing a brace. If you get a brace, BrAIST-Calc can help you decide how many hours of day are necessary for you.For example, maybe BrAIST-Calc shows the chance your curve will progress is very low. This might make you and your parents feel comfortable with not treating your scoliosis. Or maybe your risk is very high, but BrAIST-Calc shows that the risk can be a lot lower if your wear a brace for 18 hours a day. This might make you feel that by wearing a brace you have some control over your scoliosis and future health.

  • It is important to remember that no mathematical model is 100% accurate. Think of the weather forecast or recommendations from Netflix. Both use existing information to predict what might happen in the future – the chance it will rain or the chance that you’ll like a movie. As they say “Individual results may vary” and that’s why we say that the estimates from BrAIST-Calc are just ONE piece of information you should use when making a decision about scoliosis treatment.

  • It probably won’t hurt someone to get a brace even if they don’t really need one. BUT, doctors usually only prescribe braces for patients whose curves are at least 20 degrees and they’re still growing because these are the patients at higher risk for their curve getting worse. If you have health insurance, your insurance company may not pay for a brace if you don’t meet the generally accepted criteria scoliosis experts use to recommend bracing.

  • Just like you can choose between observation and wearing a brace, you can choose between having surgery or not having surgery. Surgery for AIS is never an emergency. Many people with larger curves live long, healthy lives. Your doctor should explain the benefits and the risks of surgery to you in a balanced and impartial manner. Hopefully you never have a discussion about surgery, but if you do, please remember there is no hurry and you can take your time to get as much information as you need to decide what is best for you.


The Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (BrAIST) Study Team


    • Leigh Davis, CPO (Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)
    • Samuel Swenson, MD (University of Iowa)
    • Noelle Larson, MD and Todd Milbrandt, MD (Mayo Clinic, Rochester)
    • Kate Magsamen-Conrad, PhD (University of Iowa)
    • Stuart L. Weinstein, MD (University of Iowa)
    • Matthew Halsey, MD (Oregon Health Sciences University)
    • Katelyn Winkler, PhD (University of Iowa)
    • Charles Mehlman, DO (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center)

Thanks to members of Curvy Girls and their parents who commented on early versions of this work.


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