C3 is the 3rd cervical vertebra. Like C1 & C2, it is still small and designed to allow maximal flexibility which, in evolutionary terms, enables humans to have a wide range of vision (in evolutionary terms, useful when being hunted by a carnivorous animal!). It is this quality that contributes to us being such a successful species.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about one aspect of how the RSC brace functions: as part of the normal breathing cycle, you will have noticed that our chest wall, comprised of the ribs, sternum (breast bone) and attached muscles, expands and contracts as you breathe in and out. Whilst this does not appear to be a huge amount, a perfectly fitting brace will take advantage of this movement.
The specialist design of RSC braces ensures accurate loading of the ribcage, and as you can see in the video, as the ribcage expands as you inhale, opposing forces are constantly exerting what is known as a couple on the spine via the ribs. A couple comprises 2 opposite forces around a point that cause rotation, but what you cannot see in the video is that this action is happening further down the spine as well, but in the opposite direction, thus giving a series of corrective systems, all working in harmony to enable the brace to give the best possible correction. So this is one of the reasons why the brace should be worn for 23 hours out of 24. Another reason the brace works well at night is that humans do most of their growing at night: youngsters release most growth hormones nocturnally, so all the evidence suggests that brace treatment is most effective at night (but this is NOT a reason not to wear it during the day!!)
At the bottom end of the brace, it is firmly fixed against the pelvis – which is effectively an ‘immovable’ structure, forming an anchor and stable base. Most braces will be longer on one side than the other as the open side allows the pelvis to be maintained in a corrected position. It also facilitates movement in the spine in the desired direction.
The diagram below is from the Rigo Curve Classification blog (C2) and the red areas demonstrate the position of the pressure areas which form corrective couples – these areas are known as pads. The diagram shows the clear difference between a Cheneau brace and a Boston brace – the Cheneau has large voids which create space into which the torso can move to allow correction, whereas a Boston effectively restricts this movement due to the symmetrical ‘tubular’ design (and incidentally, has the effect of stiffening up the spine)
You may be wondering what happens when you grow: whilst the brace is made out of a semi-rigid plastic, alterations can be made to re-position pads and elongate the brace in some circumstances, so growth does not automatically mean that the brace has to be scrapped.
So in fairly broad terms, I hope I have given you some insight into the mechanical workings of an RSC brace
Please don’t hesitate to send me any questions you have – I will do my best to answer them as swiftly as possible